Breaking News: Loud music causes hearing damage

I’ve written before about the misguided claim that Something Must Be Done about the potential for hearing damage resulting from unwise use of iPods and similar mp3 players. I didn’t mention any inevitable government busybody involvement at the time because I didn’t think further than the absurd lawsuit. I should have.

More research is needed to determine whether popular portable music players like Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod increase the risk of hearing loss, the National Institutes of Health said in response to a U.S. lawmaker’s request for a review of the issue.

The proximity of the source of the sound to the ears can contribute to hearing loss, but “more research is required to determine if a particular type (of earphone) increases the risk,” said James Battey, director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, in the NIH letter.

Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, sent a letter on January 26 asking NIH to review research to determine whether portable music players are contributing to premature hearing loss as well as to recommend what people can do to prevent it from happening.

Study it. I’m not going to complain too much, but mostly because I know it wouldn’t help. And the findings can be useful in pointing out the obvious helping people better understand the risks in a way that pain and tinnitus from listening too loudly could never accomplish. Of course, it would also be prudent for companies that market mp3 players to study possible effects, since legal liability, rational or not, might be involved. Again, all of that is more good than bad. But Congress can’t contain itself. This next quote portends where this story will end:

“Kids are often more familiar with these products than parents, but they don’t realize how harmful these products can be to hearing,” he said. “It can lead to a lifelong ailment.”

And there you go. Can we please save the money on the research and just write the report and the corresponding legislation now? At least if we’re going to be intentionally stupid, we should be efficient in achieving it.