November 23, 2020
This year's list includes 14 out of 24 toys that tested louder than 85 dB, the level set by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety for mandatory hearing protection.
Saint Paul, MN – Fourteen out of 24 toys tested by Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) for their 23rd Annual Noisy Toys List tested louder than 85 dB, which is the level set by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) for mandatory hearing protection. The top toy this year is Little Baby Bongo Drums by The Learning Journey, Int’l. Bongo drums for babies. Yes, you read that right! We haven’t figured out why babies need to play bongo drums when you can give a baby a spoon and pots and pans and they’re content for hours (or maybe minutes), but of course, pots and pans aren’t electronic and programmed with catchy tunes that could cause hearing damage within 15 minutes. At 105.5 dB, we recommend sticking with the old standard of spoons and pots and pans or even better yet, a real set of bongo drums!
Toys are required to meet the acoustic standard set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), which states that the sound-pressure level produced by toys shall not exceed 85 dB at 50 cm from the surface of the toy. While ASTM has acknowledged that 25 cm would be considered an average use distance for toys, they found 50 cm was a superior distance for measurement. And while there is no known sound limits that apply specifically for children, ASTM bases compliance on OSHA and U.S. military noise level limits for adults. According to SHA, “ASTM's testing standard is unreasonable. Toys should be tested based on how a child would play with it, not how an adult would play with it. If you watch a child playing with a sound-producing toy you will see them hold it close to their face, next to their ears, which is much closer than a child's arm's length of approximately 10 inches (25 cm), let alone 50 cm for an adult.”, explains Kathy Webb, Executive Director of SHA.
According to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), exposure to noise levels above 85 dB for no more than eight hours is the federal threshold for hearing protection. SHA reminds consumers that hearing loss is cumulative and it typically does not occur from one event; it gradually develops over time as we age and it is critically important that we protect children's hearing. If you own a smartphone, consumers can download a sound level meter app that can measure the decibel level of a toy or, Webb suggests, “use your built-in sound level meter, your ears…they will do just fine, because if a toy sounds too loud to you, it is too loud for a child's young ears.”
Because of COVID-19, you may find yourself shopping online or spending less time toy shopping at your favorite store this year. Most online stores are offering generous return policies this year so if you find yourself with a loud toy and you’d rather keep your house a little quieter during COVID quarantine time, you can either return it or there are a few other options that SHA recommends will make it quieter in your house this holiday season; most toys have a volume control and you can adjust to the lowest setting; apply clear packing tape over the speaker of the toy; or remove the batteries. All these measures will reduce the sound level enough to make your child’s toy ear-safe.
Minnesota-based Sight & Hearing Association is celebrating 80 years of identifying and preventing vision and hearing loss, in partnership with other professional and community organizations by providing screenings, education and research.
If you would like to receive a PDF copy of the complete 2020 Noisy Toys List©, contact Kathy Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org.