The Federal Department of Human Services has released a report from the entitled Binge Listening: Is Exposure to Leisure Noise Causing Hearing Loss in Young Australians? which also shows that these same young people (erroneously) do not believe 'it can happen to me'. Seven in 10 people surveyed, of over 1000 respondents aged 18-35, believe that listening to live music at a gig or club carries little or no risk; and only one in five thought people younger than 35 would be likely to suffer permanent damage.
This misconception is very far removed from the reality. According to this report, music played at 94 decibels (db) can cause damage in an hour, if it's a frequent event; and at 100 decibels, which does not sound very different to the human ear, hearing can be damaged in 15 minutes.
For comparison, normal conversation is about 60 db and by law, industrial sites must register sound less than 85 db before hearing protection is required.
The reporters attended 8 popular venues, and noted that only one of them registered a sound level less than 100 db; and moreover, many young people stayed close to the music for 2 hours at a time – some regularly attended venues for 5 hours at a time.
Without ear-plugs, they have already damaged their hearing. However, there are ways that young people can protect themselves.
"Most people don't have a sound level meter but they do have their own ears," commented Professor Harvey Dillon the NAL was quoted. "And if you can't have a conversation with somebody standing in front of you, then you're already in the danger zone if you stay there long enough.
"People should feel they have a right to protect themselves and these people would actually be doing everyone around them a favour by demanding lower levels of sound," he added.
There are also a range of earplugs, ranging from about $1.50o for the disposable foam 'airline' type, through to quite acceptable re-usable plugs for about $20, and upwards to the professional musician's individualised moulded plastic style. Most of the cheaper ones are quite suitable for a club venue, and allow the wearer to enjoy the music extremely well.
Club-goers can also ensure that they stand a little further from the speakers, or slightly to the side of them, as this reduces the intensity of the sound.
And of course, now there are 'apps' for users of Smartphones, which will give adequate readings of the loudness of the sound in decibels.
Hearing loss is a very serious issue, as M V Tronson is well aware of within his own family.
His late father had a 'penny bunger' fire cracker go off near his ears when he was a boy. As a result, he found that he had to sit in the front of the class where he always used to be at the back; and although he could understand the maths, his capacity to learn language at a high level never quite reached his potential.
Although no-one realised the problem at the time, his hearing had been damaged for life and regardless of how strong his hearing aids became as he grew older, he found it harder and harder to hear with clarity.
Mark Tronson's wife Delma has had debilitating hearing since birth as her mother had German Measles during the pregnancy. Delma has always retained a positive attitude as it there could have been many additional complications other than hearing loss.
She has needed hearing aids for a good part of her adult life and now has digital hearing aids and attends two Auslan (sign language for the deaf) classes a week.
When M V Tronson commenced as a locomotive trainee engineman on the New South Wales Government Railways in 1968, their diesel electric locomotives had the Westinghouse brake system.
When the driver applied the brakes, the compressed air in the brake pipe system (throughout the train) reduced in pressure, causing the brake pistons on each set of wheels throughout the train to constrict which forced the brake shoes onto the wheels.
The compressed air that was released came out of a pipe into the atmosphere under the Westinghouse brake stand in the locomotive cabin. It made a horrific noise. It was hardly noticeable on steam engines as there was so much noise all around in those open cabins, but in a closed quiet diesel locomotive cabin, the noise became deafening.
After years of complaints to the NSWGR by the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen (AFULE), a pipe was extended from the Westinghouse brake stand down through the diesel locomotive cabin's floor to exhaust the compressed air into the atmosphere around the bogeys (wheels).
As a young fireman in those diesel locomotive cabins in the late sixties and early seventies, he could attest to that terrible noise of compressed air being released into the diesel locomotive cabin and how it hurt his ears. His adult children tell him that his hearing is a problem and he often wonders what affect that compressed air release had on his long term hearing.
Hearing loss is a very serious matter. One can even ascertain this in the way Churches and University lecture theatres are being designed with radio-frequency loops which enable those with hearing deficiencies, are requested to sit in certain rows, where the PA sounds is concentrated.
Young people need to be made constantly aware of how precious is their hearing and to do everything in their power to use wisdom in such situations.