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KPBS Midday Edition

Local Headphone Maker Earns Top Rating For Protecting Young Ears

San Diego Headphone Maker Earns Top Rating For Protecting Young Ears
San Diego Headphone Maker Earns Top Rating For Protecting Young Ears GUESTS: Brett Lacey, CEO, Puro Sound Labs Peter Torre, audiology professor, San Diego State University

You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition I am Allison St. John and for Maureen Cavanaugh. Listening to music on headphones is just part of growing up these days but it is just worth noting that the volume in the headphones could affect hearing for life. There are dozens of headphones for children that promise to stop them from listening to music loud enough to damage the hearing that recent analysis from the New York Times from at half of the headphones I tested did not work. They blew right past the recommended volume limits. What was the testers top pick? A San Diego company Puro Sound Labs. We have here in studio the CEO Brett Lacey. We also have Peter Torre is a professor of audiology and the director of the recreational noise exposure and hearing loss lab . Thank you for joining us. Thank you. Let's start with Peter. How serious is the risk of losing your hearing at a young age due to headphone he is? It can be serious because you are put in the sound source very close to the year. It's a vulnerable organ and the way that children and young adults are listening these days you're putting yourself in a position to have permanent hearing loss with the amount of exposure you are putting yourself into. Your company's headphones receive the top rated -- ratings from the New York Times website. We were started back in 2014. Our founders daughter Nicole Russell has hearing damage and one of her ears from listening to headphones to loud growing up. Should be getting a ride to school and from school every day listening to her headphones her father could hear the music playing over his talk radio and would ask is that to loud and she would say no and had no idea that it was too loud and she was going to school in Boston and could not hear the lectures from the back of class and was struggling a little bit and got her hearing tested and found out that she had some current -- succumbs to hearing loss and the likely culprit was her headphones. Dave went and try to find a solution on the market and found that there was no quality solution so he went out and created this which is to help prevent hearing loss and youth and adults as well. Why is it that so many competitors have failed and what is it about your headphones that are different what is the technology that makes them actually work? I cannot speak to what has made the other products not meet the standards. I can only speak to what we do. It was a nine-month process back in 2014 we had a very get audio engineer that helped us create the product and works close with our supplier. If you saw the good morning America piece they used a rubber plastic air to measure the decibel level that they would be correct readings. They had invested in the technology to get a very accurate reading. We had to make sure we get in the hard caps at the 85 decibel. Is talking about the 85 decibel this is something that comes from OSHA. How loud is that? What does it sound like? I would love to give you a demonstration but I will hold off on that. It is pretty loud. It's based on an eight hour workday -- the standards all come from occupational noise exposure. That number is they have said 85 and 90 is a solid cap for volume exposure that's what they set for individuals that are in a work environment for they need to or are eligible or should put into a hearing conservation program which requires earplugs and maybe even removal from that environment. Does is apply to all noise if you're working with a lawnmower? USA landscapers for the University and construction guys those are standard issue equipment for those guys. They will have the big earmuffs that go around the ears are you will see them at the foam insert earplugs. Directors the decibels apply to listening to the radio through your headphones? No because that's the huge difference between an occupational noise exposure and recreational noise exposure. If I go for a run I will not run for eight hours because I'm not that fit. It's still a solid reference point because the literature that is out there is based on 85 DB exposure for eight hours but gives us a marker for help and recreational noise exposure to the same damage as occupational noise does. Should the 85 decibels be changed for children because I think a lot of parents are concerned for children's hearing. They have some that are more vulnerable because they're not as developed. There is always safety and lowering the level it's just the battle you will have with their children. I recommended for parents that are monitoring their children that -- what's the be doing in terms of supervision. With the children's headphones they are designed -- there are some conscience -- if they want to go outside and do something else that would be my recommendation. If you are going on around like 85 decibels is good but we think they will be okay. Thank you for coming and. And thank you Peter who is professor of audiology and San Diego state. Stay with us Stella had a conversation with two spirited San Diego the writer-director and the start of a new play opening at La Jolla Playhouse tonight. It is called the wholehearted. It's a one-woman show at tale about love violence and gender roles. The time is 12 deck 47 and were listening to KPBS Midday Edition.

There are dozens of headphone manufacturers that pledge to safeguard children's ears by limiting how loud they can listen to music. But a New York Times analysis last week found half of the 30 kids headphones tested blew past their promised noise limits.

The top pick was a set of Bluetooth headphones from San Diego-based Puro Sound Labs. Product recommendations website The Wirecutter, owned by The New York Times Co., found Puro's headphones were able to consistently limit their output to 85 decibels, the federal workplace safety recommendation for adults. That's somewhere between the sound a garbage disposal or vacuum cleaner makes from three feet away.

Puro was founded in 2014 by Dave Russell after his daughter developed noise-induced hearing loss, which her doctors believed was caused from listening to lots of loud music. Puro's headphones use an internal battery to control how loud they can get.

Hearing loss from loud music can be permanent, according to San Diego State University audiology professor Peter Torre. He heads up SDSU's Recreational Noise Exposure and Auditory Function Lab. The 85 decibel limit is a good start, he said, but because it was set decades ago for adults over an eight-hour workday, there's still a risk of hearing loss for children even at that level.

"It’s a great step, but the classic part is moderation," Torre said. "If you want to listen to music when you work out, that’s fine, but you shouldn’t spend eight or nine hours under earphones. If you’re wearing your earphones and you notice ringing in your ears, or you can’t hear something, you should have your hearing checked."

Torre and Puro CEO Brett Lacey join KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday with more advice on how to prevent hearing loss in children.

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