United States: A new study has established that many devices are loud enough to reach a level dangerous to infants who are more vulnerable to receiving health effects from noise. 

The findings of the study are published in the journal Sleep Medicine. 

More about the news 

One of the study authors, Dr. Isaac Erbele, who also specializes in ear and skull surgeries at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, said, “Those devices exceeded what is appropriate for hearing health for any individual, just walking around and living their life,” as goodmorningamerica.com reported 

Erbele also mentioned that it is concerning that various commercially available white noise machines are loud enough with white noises that are not safe for kids, as the study found. 

White Noise Machines Dangerous for Infants, Study Reveals. Credit | Getty Images
White Noise Machines Dangerous for Infants, Study Reveals. Credit | Getty Images

Moreover, such machines are not federally regulated, and the noise levels are also not clearly, or sometimes not at all, labeled on them. 

According to the present pediatric sound guidelines, there is no specific level of decibel cutoff for parents to check for white noise machines in their wards. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the machines should be located “as far away as possible from the infant, set the volume as low as possible, and limit the duration of use.” 

As per an ABC News report, AAP had warned to make such machines at least seven or more feet away from a child; however, experts say the consequences of such sounds are not clearly identified. 

Side-effects of White sounds 

Earlier research proved that loud noise stimulates stress in neonates, but the songs and breath sounds could soothe the babies. The AAP does caution on that raising one’s exposure to noise such as loud traffic, headphones and concert, one risks to suffer from permanent hearing loss. 

Since there have been no set decibels for use by infants, Erbele and his team had to look at the existing National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guidelines as “a good ceiling,” for how loud white noise machines should be. 

Erbele was worried that of the 24 white noise machines and six phone apps reviewed in his study, all of them “had levels that were higher than are permissible for an eight-hour shift by NIOSH,” as goodmorningamerica.com reported. 

NIOSH in its recommendation suggested that exposure limit (REL) of such devices to be of 85 decibels over eight hours. However, the louder the noise gets, shorter is the duration of exposure recommended. 

As per NIOSH, “Workers who are exposed to noise at or above the NIOSH REL are at risk of developing significant hearing loss over their working lifetime.” 


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