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WHO issues new international standard for music devices

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to health.


WHO issues new international standard for music devices


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key guidelines and significance of these guidelines.


Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have issued a new international standard for the manufacture and use of musical devices.

The aim behind the move is to prevent young people from going deaf.


Among other things, the standard recommends:

Sound allowance” function: software that tracks the level and duration of the user’s exposure to sound as a percentage used of a reference exposure.

Personalised profile: an individualized listening profile, based on the user’s listening practices, which informs the user of how safely (or not) he or she has been listening and gives cues for action based on this information.

Volume limiting options: options to limit the volume, including automatic volume reduction and parental volume control.

General information: information and guidance to users on safe listening practices, both through personal audio devices and for other leisure activities.

The WHO has recommended that governments and manufacturers adopt the standard. It has also called on civil society organisations, particularly professional associations that promote hearing care, to play a role in advocating for the standard.


What necessitated this?

  1. Nearly 50% of people aged 12-35 years — or 1.1 billion young people — are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds, including music they listen to through personal audio devices.
  2. Over five per cent of the world’s population — or 466 million people — has disabling hearing loss; impacting on their quality of life. The majority live in low- and middle-income countries.
  3. It is estimated that by 2050, over 900 million people — or 1 in every 10 people — will have disabling hearing loss. Hearing loss which is not addressed poses an annual global cost of $750 billion. Overall, it is suggested that half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures.


Sources: down to earth.