Young people are putting their hearing at risk by listening to music at the same volume as jet engines, a researcher warned today.
Playing MP3 players at high volumes and using earphones that fit into the ear canal could lead to loss of hearing, he said.
Professor Peter Rabinowitz, from Yale University School of Medicine in the US, said some players generate volumes in the ear in excess of 120 decibels – "similar in intensity to a jet engine".
Writing online in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), he said the leading cause of preventable hearing loss is exposure to excessive levels of noise.
"Traditionally, noise-induced hearing loss was a disease of adults who worked in noisy occupations or used firearms," he said.
"However, concern is growing that children and young adults are developing noise-induced hearing loss as a result of 'environmental' overexposure to amplified music, especially through the use of personal music devices such as MP3 players.
"As with mobile phones, the use of personal music players has grown faster than our ability to assess their potential health consequences.
"The reported use of these devices is high in young people – more than 90% in surveys from Europe, and the United States – and users often listen for several hours a day at maximum volume."
Professor Rabinowitz said several small studies found that young people had worse hearing if they listened to music players, but more research was needed.