November 13, 2017
This year's list includes 18 out of 22 toys that tested louder than 85 dB, the level set by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety for mandatory hearing protection.
Saint Paul, MN – "All you need is love" is a perfect message to share this holiday season, but you will also need earplugs, if the children in your life receive any of the top 18 out of 22 toys tested by Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) for their 20th Annual Noisy Toys List. The message every year from SHA is that loud toys recklessly expose children to decibel levels that can be damaging to their hearing and among the 18 loudest toys, 10 blasted in at over 90 decibels (dB), which can damage hearing in less than 30 minutes when placed at a child's ear. The toy topping the List this year is Beat Bugs® Molded Sing Along Karaoke, which is causing a buzz at 96.7 dB. Intended for children 3 years and older, this toy is based on a character named Walter, a loveable slug from a Netflix animated series for young children that is inspired by songs from The Beatles. This trending toy shares shelf space with other noisy toys for preschoolers ranging from a talking car to a singing princess. What has been bugging SHA for the past two decades is that toys don't need to be noisy to be entertaining, but "noise" sells and like bees to honey, it seems the louder the toy, the more a child and adults are attracted to it.
Toys are required to meet the acoustic standard set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), which states that the sound-pressure level produced by toys shall not exceed 85 dB at 50 cm from the surface of the toy. While ASTM has acknowledged that 25 cm would be considered an average use distance for toys, they found 50 cm was a superior distance for measurement. And while there is no known sound limits that apply specifically for children, ASTM bases compliance on OSHA and U.S. military noise level limits for adults. According to SHA, “ASTM's testing standard is unreasonable. Toys should be tested based on how a child would play with it, not how an adult would play with it. If you watch a child playing with a sound-producing toy you will see them hold it close to their face, next to their ears, which is much closer than a child's arm's length of approximately 10 inches (25 cm), let alone 50 cm for an adult.”, explains Kathy Webb, Executive Director of SHA.
According to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), exposure to noise levels above 85 dB for no more than eight hours is the federal threshold for hearing protection. SHA reminds consumers that hearing loss is cumulative and it typically does not occur from one event; it gradually develops over time as we age and it is critically important that we protect children's hearing. If you own a smartphone, consumers can download a sound level meter app that can measure the sound level of a toy. But if you don't own a smartphone, Webb says, "your ears will do just fine, because if a toy sounds too loud to you, it is too loud for a child's young ears.”
If your child receives a noisy toy this holiday season, there are a few things you can do to make it quieter in your house. SHA recommends testing the toy before you buy it. Webb suggests you, “push buttons and rattle toys as you walk through the toy aisle and it is okay to say NO to noisy toys. But if saying "no" is not an option, look for toys that have volume controls or on/off switches and you can also place clear packing tape over the speaker, it will reduce the sound level enough to make the toy ear-safe.”
Founded in 1939, Minnesota-based Sight & Hearing Association is dedicated to enabling lifetime learning by identifying preventable loss of vision and hearing.
If you would like to receive a PDF copy of the complete 2017 Noisy Toys List© or if you have a noisy toy to report, contact Kathy Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org.