Listen up, NJ — These noisy toys could be dangerous for your kids
Some of the new toys in your home this holiday season may be driving you nuts, but they could be doing even more damage to your children.
Experts say the standards for sound levels on children's toys are not always in touch with reality, meaning just a few minutes up close with the wrong toy could cause permanent hearing problems over time.
By law, the sound-pressure level produced by toys can't exceed 85 decibels at 50 cm, or about 19 inches, from one's face.
But, as Sue Clampitt with Hunterdon Audiology Associates points out, not many children play with their toys at a distance longer than the average adult's arm.
"They play with them closer," Clampitt said. "Especially some of the stuffed animals - they're hugging it, they're kissing it, it's right there."
In a November test of 20 toys by the Sight & Hearing Association, 17 tested louder than 85 decibels when held at close range. A few, listed below, topped 103 decibels.
- WWE 3-Count Crushers: Roman Reigns (Mattel, Inc.)
- Road Rippers Rush & Rescue (Toy State)
- My First Tonka Wobble Wheels (Tonka)
Even at 10 inches away, their decibel levels topped 85.
According to a spokesperson for the Toy industry Association, sound requirements do take into account the fact that some toys are used much closer to the ear than 50 cm, and allowable sound pressure levels are adjusted accordingly.
"It's over time that these toys can cause some damage," Clampitt said. "(Children) can have some permanent hearing loss if it's exposed enough and over time."
But damage can be done in less than 15 minutes, by the louder toys, when held at a child's ear.
"What you do now sometimes can affect you later in life," Clampitt added.
So that you don't have to be Grinch who stole your child's new toy, Clampitt said the intensity of a toy's noise can be mitigated by placing tape over its speaker.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.