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03rd Mar 2022

WHO recommends that nightclubs offer earplugs to attendees

Stephen Porzio

They also advise that venues provide patrons with access to “quiet zones” to rest their ears.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that venues such as nightclubs, bars, concerts and sporting events offer earplugs to attendees.

The advice was published ahead of World Hearing Day 2022 on Thursday (3 March).

To mark the date, the WHO issued a new international standard for safe listening at venues and events where “amplified music” is played that includes six recommendations.

According to the health organisation, the recommendations are to ensure venues and events limit the risk of hearing loss to patrons while “preserving high-quality sound and an enjoyable listening experience”.

They are:

  • a maximum average sound level of 100 decibels
  • live monitoring and recording of sound levels using calibrated equipment by designated staff
  • optimising venue acoustics and sound systems to ensure enjoyable sound quality and safe listening
  • making personal hearing protection available to audiences including instructions on use
  • access to quiet zones for people to rest their ears and decrease the risk of hearing damage
  • provision of training and information to staff.

The WHO said in a statement that over 1 billion people aged between 12 and 35 risk losing their hearing due to “prolonged and excessive exposure to loud music and other recreational sounds”.

It added that this can have “devastating consequences for their physical and mental health, education and employment prospects”.

“Millions of teenagers and young people are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to damaging sound levels at venues such as nightclubs, bars, concerts and sporting events,” WHO Director for the Department for Noncommunicable Diseases Dr Bente Mikkelsen said.

“The risk is intensified as most audio devices, venues and events do not provide safe listening options and contribute to the risk of hearing loss.

“The new WHO standard aims to better safeguard young people as they enjoy their leisure activities.”

During a Q&A on World Hearing Day, Technical Lead for Ear and Hearing Care at the WHO Dr Shelly Chadha was asked if she would recommend that people use earplugs at concerts.

“Yes, absolutely,” she responded: “Just yesterday, we launched new guidance from WHO for venues where amplified music is played and one of those recommendations is that hearing protection should be available at these venues to the audiences.

“Because even an ordinary earplug can attenuate the sound level.”

The WHO also states that young people can better protect their hearing by:

  • keeping the volume down on personal audio devices
  • using well-fitted, and if possible, noise-cancelling earphones/headphones
  • wearing earplugs at noisy venues
  • getting regular hearing check-ups

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