Michigan ENT & Allergy Specialists
Our team specializes in ear, nose, throat, and allergy care – from more common procedures, such as ear tube placement, tonsillectomy, in office sinus surgery, and allergy testing and treatment to evaluation and surgical treatment of thyroid nodules as well as skin cancers of the head and neck. With extensive experience practicing in Michigan, our providers treat every patient as an individual and with the utmost kindness, compassion, and respect. Our team will develop a plan that best fits your unique situation.
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MICHIGAN ENT & ALLERGY SPECIALISTS: Beware of Christmas toys with dangerous volume levels
What toys did your children receive for Christmas?
Holland, MI — Lawn mowers, concerts, ambulance sirens, and motorcycles are among the most commonly recognized sources of loud, potentially damaging noises that could lead to hearing loss over time. Meanwhile, unnoticed contributors to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) may be sitting underneath Christmas trees across America: children’s toys.
“Some of the most common toys for infants, toddlers, and adolescents really shouldn’t even be handled by their intended users,” says Dr. Erica Mandrick, AuD of Michigan ENT & Allergy Specialists. “There aren’t a lot of packages with adequate warnings, and the regulations for these toys are pretty poorly written.”
Toys are required to meet standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials regarding sound-pressure levels, but these standards aren’t always in touch with reality. For example, regulations state that noise emitted from a children’s toy must not exceed 85 decibels (dB) at 50 centimeters from the body; 50 centimeters is longer than the average length of an adult’s arm, creating a disconnect between the actual use of a toy and the rules for production. Of the Sight & Hearing Association’s 20 noisiest toys from 2012, 12 of them exceeded 100 dB at close range.
“When you consider how a child would actually play with a toy, they generally hold it a lot closer to their body,” says Dr. Richard Strabbing, DO. “So how safe they are is really based on whether they’ll be interacting with and using the toy for an extended period of time or not.”
In September 2013, the National Center for Biotechnology Information produced a study suggesting that taping or gluing the speakers lowered the average decibel level by a significant amount. The 16 toys tested created an average noise level of 107.6 dB at very close range; taping or gluing over the speakers made them 84.2 dB and 79.7 dB at the same distance, respectively.
Both Android and Apple smartphones have downloadable decibel-meter apps that can offer a general idea of how loud a toy is at close range. Downloading one of these apps and testing the toys prior to purchase is just one way to take preventive action.
Dr. Erica Mandrick, AuD
Dr. Richard Strabbing, DO