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Nov/Dec 2012    (View past health issues)
 Noisy Toys


Noisy Toys

Noisy Toys List 2012

12 of 20 toys tested increase the risk of hearing loss in less than 15 minutes.

Don't leave cookies and milk out for Santa this holiday season - leave earplugs instead because chances are he will be coming down the chimney with a sack full of noisy toys. The Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) has released their 15th Annual Noisy Toys List and they report that toy manufacturers are still producing dangerously loud toys. Of 20 toys tested this year, 12 sounded off above 100 decibels (dB), which can damage hearing in less than 15 minutes.



Walking through the toy aisles at various stores, SHA selects toys that appear to be too loud for consumers. Once brought back to their office, a hand-held sound level meter is used to measure the sound. Measurements are taken with the sound level meter placed directly on the speaker and 10 inches from the speaker. This, year, Mattel's Talking Figure Buzz Lightyear was the leader among a dozen toys that literally went from infinity and beyond when it came to producing sound, blasting out at 111 dB. According to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, exposure to decibel levels at a close distance would cause hearing damage almost immediately. 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 happen from one event; it gradually happens over time and that is why it is important to protect hearing at a young age.

Toys are required to meet the acoustic standard set by the American Society of Testing and Materials, which states that the sound-pressure level produced by toys shall not exceed 85 dB at 50 cm from the surface of the toy. "The problem with this standard is 50 cm is longer than the average arm length of an adult. We test toys based on how a child would play with them, not how an adult would play with them. If you watch a child playing with a noise-producing toy, you will see them hold it close to their ears or within their arms length, which is closer to 10 inches (25 cm)", explains Kathy Webb, Executive Director of SHA.

Parents can do a few things to make it a little quieter this holiday season. SHA recommends testing the toy before you buy it. Webb suggests you, "push buttons and rattle toys as you walk through the toy aisle and if a toy is too loud for you, it will be too loud for your child. Look for toys that have volume controls and if you must buy a noisy toy, or your child receives a noisy toy as a gift, place clear packing tape over the speaker, it will reduce the sound level enough to make the toy ear-safe." The University of Minnesota/Department of Otolaryngology confirmed in a study released in August 2012 that covering noise-producing toys with tape or glue will significantly reduce the noise level of a toy, making it safer for children.


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