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Warning to Round the Bays Participants


The National Foundation for the Deaf is warning the thousands of people taking part in this weekend’s Round the Bays to be mindful of safe sounds during the event.

It is common for people to wear headphones while participating – and the Foundation warns that listening at high volume with earbud headphones for prolonged periods heightens your risk of hearing loss later in life.

“It’s understandable that people may want to listen to music to make the event more enjoyable, but we advise taking breaks from loud music – and reduce the volume,” Natasha Gallardo, chief executive of the National Foundation for the Deaf, says. “This puts less strain on your ears, and you will be safer if you are aware of the sounds around you.”

Round the Bays is being held on Sunday, March 3, which is World Hearing Day.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) projections suggest that unless action is taken, there will be 630 million people living with disabling hearing loss by the year 2030, with that number expected to grow to over 900 million by 2050. WHO research has found that almost 50% of all portable music device users are listening in an unsafe manner, putting their hearing at risk.

The Foundation has a team in this year’s event, to help raise awareness of the 880,000 people in New Zealand who have a hearing loss – 300,000 of these are in the working age.

WHO says your daily sound allowance works like a monetary allowance: you have a limited amount to spend each day. For example, the louder or longer you are exposed to high levels of sound, the more you “spend”, the faster you run out of your allowance.

Safe listening levels depend on the intensity (loudness), duration (length of time) and frequency (how often) of the exposure. The highest safe sound level is 85 dB up to a maximum of eight hours. So you could be exposed to the same level of loudness in 15 minutes of music at 100 dB as an industrial worker gets in an eight-hour day at 85 dB.

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