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Just how bad for my hearing are earbud headphones?
They’re no more dangerous than the old-school earmuff kind. “All headphones have the capacity to damage hearing if a person uses them at high volume for a long time,” says Brian Filgor, ScD, director of diagnostic audiology at Children’s Hospital Boston. Specifically, a recent Harvard study found that adults who listened to music with headphones for 90 minutes at 80 per cent of maximum volume experienced permanent hearing loss. Problem is, it’s easy to crank your tunes too loud and for too long when background noise is intruding from your environment, be it the din of the gym or the sounds of the street. One solution: noise-blocking headphones, or if you’d rather not abandon the buds you already have, see if your MP3 player has a volume-limit function. iPod users can download Apple’s volume limiter (apple.com/ipod/download).