French Health Minister Marisol Touraine wants to legally limit the maximum volume that can be emitted by headphones
French Health Minister Marisol Touraine wants to legally limit the maximum volume that can be emitted by headphones in order to protect youths from hearing damageReuters

France's Health Minister Marisol Touraine is considering changing the law to legally limit the maximum volume that can be emitted by headphones and reduce sound levels at pop and rock concerts.

In her health bill that will go before parliament in the spring, Touraine wants to introduce a clause that "ensures that headphones cannot produce a sound higher than a certain number of decibels".

"Should we limit the sound emitted in certain closed halls when concerts are held? That is something we are considering," she told French TV station BFM TV but did not specify a specific volume measurement.

Touraine's remarks come at the start of the Semaine du Son, a week-long national noise-prevention campaign aiming to educate youths on the hearing problems that can be caused by long-term exposure to music that is too loud.

France already has existing laws that limit the volume of portable audio devices to 100 decibels (dB), and the EU introduced a mandatory safety limit on all personal music players of 85 dB in 2012.

Users receive a warning if they want to make the volume louder but are not prevented from overriding the control and increasing the volume up to 100 dB.

The current guidelines from experts advise people should not experience loud volumes of 100dB for longer than 15 minutes a day. Listening to music at 91dB is allowed for a maximum of two hours a day, four hours at 88 dB and eight hours at 85 dB.

A study by polling institute Ipos released this week in conjunction with the noise-prevention campaign says 78% of respondents aged between 15 to 30 have experienced hearing difficulties after being exposed to high-volume music.

Meanwhile, 60% of the respondents admitted to suffering from tinnitus (ringing in the ears), while 44% noticed a temporary loss of hearing and 31% experienced earache from being exposed to loud music.

The most popular brands of headphones on the market include the likes of Beats, Skullcandy, Bose and Sennheiser, and many of those companies make headphones with a range that goes beyond 100 dB.

While the safety cap on EU-approved music players, smartphones, handheld game consoles and tablets would prevent users from going above the limit of 100 dB, perhaps Touraine plans to make the maximum volume limit around 85 dB or even less.

However, it would be difficult to police the amount of decibels a person chooses to listen to music on when it comes to other devices, such as a PC computer or a TV hi-fi entertainment system.