Put on your headphones: Headphones, their impact on health, the environment


Headphones…we can’t live without them. However, as the industry for this essential tool in our technological lives reaches billions of dollars worldwide and as audio devices, especially headphones, continue to evolve and become more and more ubiquitous, it is worth recall how this technology emerged and the potential dangers it poses despite its essential place in our daily lives.

The foundations of the headphone technology we use today were laid more than 100 years ago when Graham Bell invented the telephone, according to social media expert Deniz Unay.

Telephone companies and the US military were among the early adopters of early examples of headphone designs we see in almost every area of ​​our lives today, Unay told Anadolu Agency (AA).

Since then, the only thing that remained unchanged was the purpose of these products, which was to provide the joy and convenience of high-quality personal sound, according to Unay.

International market

“Wireless transmission, one of the innovations that developing technology has brought to our lives, has inevitably led the headphone industry as well,” according to Unay, who noted that despite this, personal audio hasn’t not completely removed the cables.

For wired and wireless headphones, daily technological advancements have led to new ideas and made it an industry, he said.

The size of this international sector has surpassed $35 billion, Unay said, citing findings from San Francisco-based consultancy Grand View Research.

He pointed out that over the next decade, around 20% of the world’s population is expected to own at least one helmet, while the industry is expected to grow five times from its current size.

Meanwhile, Japanese electronics giant Sony, which has led the audio and video technology industry for many years, is now overshadowed by brands such as Apple and Bose, he said.

Instead of poor quality headphones that used to be free with the purchase of a new phone, companies have now started selling headphone models with the promise of better quality to their users and a stable source. income for themselves, added Unay.

“Aware of this new revenue stream, companies have embraced the idea of ​​producing their headphones as perishable and difficult to repair. Thus, headphones have become a more consistent and predictable source of revenue for businesses,” he said. he declares.

The fact that headphones are so widespread and easily accessible has added different dimensions to the sector. Apart from the music industry, the industry also covers fitness, games, film and virtual reality, according to Unay.

health factor

“Headphones provide privacy for phone calls and music listening activities and make our lives easier. It’s an undeniable fact,” Unay admitted.

However, he noted, it is fundamentally against the nature of human hearing for sound to be sent directly into the ear canal. This raises questions about the health of using headphones, especially during long-term use.

Sound intensity is measured in decibels (dB). Loud noises over 120 decibels, about as loud as sirens when standing next to them, can cause immediate damage to our hearing, according to the United States’ main health agency, the CDC. , said Unay.

Sounds of 80 dB and above, on the other hand, are disturbing to humans and cause hearing damage after long-term exposure. Listening to music and making phone calls through earphones exposes our ears to about 80-85dB of sound intensity, Unay warned.

By comparison, the human ear is exposed to about 80dB of sound when traveling in a vehicle, while motorcycle engines produce about 95dB of noise, he said.

Household appliances such as vacuum cleaners emit about 70 dB of sound. That’s over 60dB for normal speech, which isn’t distracting and doesn’t cause hearing problems, while a whisper is around 30dB.

Noise pollution

Unay pointed out that today, many countries are trying to reduce urban noise pollution, because loud noise can also harm nature, as well as people.

“Animals, like humans, are disturbed by loud noises. For example, mammals such as cats, dogs and horses are seriously disturbed by sounds of 90 dB and above,” he said.

A study conducted at the University of Maryland found that loud noise and noise pollution also caused hearing problems in some sea creatures, Unay noted.

He said that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) have stated that noises in people’s environment should remain below 70 dB throughout. throughout the day.

However, sound in major cities, such as Istanbul and New York, has been measured at over 80 dB on average.


Unay pointed out that household appliances such as vacuum cleaners, transport vehicles such as trains and trucks, and work and construction machinery “contribute to noise pollution in our daily lives”.

“We usually find the solution by wearing headphones and listening to loud music to avoid these noises. In fact, in a way, we jump from the frying pan into the fire, he warned.

“Smartphones, which have become an indispensable part of daily life, can instantly measure the dB value we are exposed to. We need to pay attention to these values ​​and listen to music at a lower level,” he said. he adds.

Noise-canceling headphones can be helpful in reducing ambient noise and eliminating the need to turn up the volume while listening to music.

Unay urged people to see a doctor if they feel anything unusual about their hearing, saying they should also pay attention to ear and headphone hygiene.


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