Some toys are not as much fun as they look. Many toys designed to stimulate children can be dangerously loud. For the infant or child whose arms are shorter than those of an adult and most typically listens to these toys close to the small, sensitive ear, the risk is even greater.
Current Safety Regulations
Many of today's noisy toys indicate on the packaging that they Conform to the Safety Requirements of ASTM F963 (American Society for Testing and Materials). The Safety Requirements states, "Toys shall not produce impulsive noises with an instantaneous sound pressure level exceeding 138dB when measured at any position 25cm from the surface of the toy. (This is louder than a jet taking off or the sound of a jack-hammer). The Consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that they do not currently have regulations which address the loudness of toys.
How Loud is Too Loud?
To know if a sound is loud enough to cause damage to your ears, it is important to know both the level of intensity (measured in decibels, dBA) and the length of exposure to the sound. In general, the louder the sound, the less time required before hearing will be affected. Standards set by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) indicate that continued exposure to noise over 85 dBA will eventually harm your hearing. To avoid noise-induced hearing loss, OSHA recommends that hearing protection be worn in the workplace when loudness levels and exposure time exceed the allowable standards. For example, 15 minutes exposure at 115 dBA is considered dangerous to hearing and even an exposure of less than 2 minutes at 130 dBA may be hazardous to hearing. Although OSHA protects a person in the workplace, the same protection is not available for children.
Some Examples of Noisy Toys
- Certain rattles and squeaky toys are measured at sound levels as high as 110 dBA.
- Musical toys, such as electric guitars, drums and horns, emit sounds as loud as 120 dBA.
- Toy phones for small children are measured between 123 and 129 dBA.
- Toys which are designed to amplify the voice are measured at up to 135 dBA.
- Toys producing firearm sounds emit volumes as loud as 150 dBA one foot away from the noise source.
Protect your children. Be aware that noise can and does cause hearing loss. Listen to a toy before buying it. If it sounds loud, hurts your ears or causes ringing, do not buy it.