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CLASSICAL  April 2007

CLASSICAL April 2007

Subject:

Loud Noise in the Gym

From:

Roger Hecht <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 7 Apr 2007 09:46:13 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (106 lines)

Following is a letter I sent to my YMCA

   Yesterday, after finishing my workout, I was walking by the
   registration desk and noticed an indoor soccer game in the gym.
   I looked through the window and saw a large number of kids about
   12 years old and younger, of both sexes, many ethnic backgrounds,
   and all sizes.  They seemed to be having a great time, and I
   couldn't help wondering why so many children of mixed ethnic
   backgrounds can play well together only to turn into adults who
   cannot.  It is to the credit of the YMCA in Brighton that this
   thought crosses my mind often when I'm there.

   As I watched, I began to wonder about the ominous thunder I was
   hearing.  Of course, it wasn't thunder, and I decided to open
   the gym door and see just how loud the music coming from inside
   actually was.

   It was extremely loud.  Of course, that is the trend these days.
   The last Celtics game I attend (literally, the last), I had to
   wear 30dB ear plugs because of the music.  The basketball game
   was a sideshow.

   Anyway, as I stood there watching the soccer game, I could not
   ignore the irony of kids engaging in healthy exercise for their
   bodies while the sound system was damaging their hearing.

   That same irony strikes me when I work out on the bikes in the
   quiet part of the exercise room.  Someone takes one of the other
   bikes or ellipticals, begins working out, and turns the listening
   equipment on his/her head up to deafening levels.  The overflow
   is so loud that the person's head sounds like a beehive.  It
   creates quite a disturbing racket.  Well, if it's disturbing to
   someone three to ten feet away (once I thought one of the room
   speakers was on), it has to be very damaging to its user.  What
   can a person be thinking who is working so hard to keep his/her
   body fit while destroying that same body's hearing?

   This is exactly what those kids in the soccer game are doing-with
   your help.

   Surely you are aware of the recent research and concern over
   children and young people damaging their hearing with loud music.
   If not, here is a sample from yesterday's Boston Globe.  I beg
   you to think about this issue and turn down the music in the gym
   while the kids are playing soccer.  Otherwise you are as surely
   helping damage one part of their bodies while building others.
   Is that what you want?
_________________

   Thursday, April 5, 2007
   Students advised to tone it down

   By Michael Levenson and April Simpson, Globe Staff

   The audiologist walked through the packed lunchroom, holding a
   wandlike instrument near the 200 middle school students laughing,
   shrieking, and drumming on the tables.

   This was an experiment to test just how loud is loud during lunch
   hour at Smith Leadership Academy in Dorchester.  The results
   surprised even the doctor, the director of audiology at the
   Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

   Her meter showed 85 to 90 decibels, the equivalent of a gaspowered
   lawnmower held at arms' length.  At that level, the federal
   government would limit exposure to eight hours or fewer in a
   workplace, said the audiologist, Sharon G. Kujawa.

   The experiment Thursday underscored a growing debate in the
   scientific community about whether children are at greater risk
   for hearing loss because of their constant exposure to loud
   sounds, not only in the lunchroom but any place where they listen
   to music on headphones.

   There are conflicting studies on whether children are losing
   their hearing earlier in adulthood than in past generations, but
   there are enough warning signs that Kujawa and teachers want the
   students to pipe down and turn down the music.

   "The risk is very real, so we shouldn't underestimate that,"
   said Kujawa, who is also an associate professor of otology and
   laryngology at Harvard Medical School.  "We don't want to wait
   to get the evidence, because once that happens, that's it.  It's
   too late."

   Doctors have long known that children can damage their hearing
   through a single exposure to a deafening noise, such as a
   firecracker, or repeated exposure to loud sounds, such as music
   from a stereo.  But their concern has grown in recent years as
   more children listen to music through headphones, which bring
   the sound even closer to the fragile hair cells of the inner
   ear.  Once those cells, which transform sound into electrochemical
   signals to the brain, are damaged, they can't be regrown or
   repaired through surgery, Kujawa said.

   "We have very poor ways of dealing with the consequences," Kujawa
   said.  "The very best we can do is educate people, so we can
   prevent it at the front end."

Roger Hecht

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