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3M And Dangerous Decibels Host International Conference And Public Workshop On Hearing Loss And Prevention In Youth

Public health experts, school nurses, teachers, students, audiologists, industrial hygienists and media from around the world will convene in St. Paul, Minn., Oct. 15-18 for the Innovations in Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Prevention in Kids, a weeklong series of educational events hosted by 3M and Dangerous Decibels. The series features a two-day Innovations Conference, an educators’ training workshop, and a free public event aimed at helping kids and their parents understand the sound levels that can cause permanent hearing loss and the strategies needed to help prevent it.

Kicking off the series Oct. 15 and 16 is the Innovations Conference, which will cover current trends and innovation in noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus prevention in children. Fifteen experts, representing the American Academy of Audiology, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Boston Children’s Hospital and many other leading institutions, will discuss state-of-the-art interventions and methodologies for effective hearing-loss prevention. Topics range from the “Joy of Hearing” and “Endangered Ears” to “Noise Hazards from Musical Equipment: Concerts, Cars, Cans and Kids.”

A free, public event on Oct. 16 – “ How loud is your music?” – aims to raise awareness of the sound levels and durations that can cause permanent hearing loss when listening to music. The event features 20 teams from Minnesota and across the U.S., who will each build a “Jolene.” Jolene is a mannequin that measures sound levels of music devices. Parents and children can watch teams create the mannequins, have their personal music players tested, and learn more about how loud music effects hearing and earphone choices. The event is open to all ages. Attendees are encouraged to stop in anytime between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m., and bring their iPods, MP3 players and other personal music players.

“Recent studies indicate that 90 percent of 12 to19 year olds listen to music through earphones and that nearly 30 percent are at risk for hearing loss due to the levels at which they are listening,” said William Martin, Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University. “Our concern is that the vast majority of users have no idea what sound levels and durations are safe or dangerous to their ears.”

“Repeated exposure to loud sounds, greater than 85 dBA, can cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus,” said Division Scientist Elliott Berger, 3M. “Our goal is that through educational, hands-on activity, we can teach our youth about the impacts that listening to loud music can have on their long-term hearing.”

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