Watch out for loud toys

Toys and Christmas go hand-in-hand. Lately we've been hearing about the hidden dangers of toys with lead paint and small parts that are easy to swallow.

According to Rebecca Younk, an education program manager with Amplifon USA who represents Miracle-ear of Camillus, parents may overlook the potential dangers of hearing loss from toys. Some toys are louder than 118 dB--which is almost equivalent to a jackhammer.

"It's something we have to keep in mind," Younk said. "As adults, we know when something is too loud and we can move or get away from the noise. Children don't really know better."

The level of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). According to the American Institute of Pediatrics, the risk level of developing noise induced hearing loss begins at 85 dB. For every increase of three decibels above 85, the amount of time a child should be exposed to the sound decreases in half. For example, the exposure of sound at a level of 85 dB is eight hours for children, two hours for 91 dB and only 15 minutes for a sound level of 100 dB. Noise levels higher than 85 dB can cause permanent damages to your hearing.

"Unfortunately, there are no current US regulations governing the sound level of toys," Younk said. "Although the American Society for Testing Materials has adopted rules for sound-producing toys, manufacturers aren't required to comply. During the holiday season, we want to warn parents in the Camillus area how harmful noisy toys can to their children and others."

Some everyday harmful noises that people should keep in mind are the sounds of a jet plane take off (120dB), a rock concert (110 dB), a snowmobile or chainsaw (100 dB) and shop tools or a lawn mower (90dB).

"There are certain toys that carry noise levels that are really unsafe for children," Younk said. "Hearing loss happens gradually and may not occur with one exposere. Repeated exposures will increase the likelihood of noise induced hearing loss."

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