Noise: not for the ears of small children

New publication for third and fourth-year pupils

comic drawing: a head of a child, sourrounded by noisy things, like an ambulance, a radio and a loud speakerClick to enlarge
Noisy toys, shouting in the classroom or traffic noise – children are often exposed to noise.
Source: Studio Good / Umweltbundesamt

Sleep disorders, increased blood pressure or even ringing in the ears (tinnitus) – noise can make people ill, even as early as childhood. Past studies by the Federal Environment Agency of a group of 1,000 children showed that one in every eight suffered some degree of hearing impairment. "We must be very aware that children have less control over their acoustic environment than adults", said Maria Krautzberger, President of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). "This is why they are sometimes exposed to noise and have no means of defence", continued UBA's President. A new interactive brochure from the UBA teaches third and fourth-year pupils about acoustics and noise in a playful way and aims to raise awareness of the problem of noise. The brochure can be downloaded free of charge from the UBA website.

The new brochure for schoolchildren in the third and fourth grade teaches children about the structure of the human ear, what its functions are or how to behave appropriately when interacting with the deaf people. The workbook also has instructions for crafts projects like building a tin can telephone or a hearing memory game.

Studies by the UBA have shown that noise exposure often begins as early as childhood. In a survey of 1,048 children, there was evidence that one in every eight children aged 4-8 has suffered a striking loss of hearing. The reasons can be traced to loud music or loud toys. In addition, one in every six children lives near heavily trafficked roads. In nearly two-thirds of the cases in this group, the children's bedrooms face the street. The average blood pressure in this group was also slightly elevated.

In addition to necessary noise reduction measures in the transport sector, we people can also take real steps to reduce noise in our everyday lives: by not purchasing loud toys such as toy pistols. There are in fact low-noise alternatives which are just as tantalizing. "Everybody knows that you are not supposed to listen to music at full volume with headphones on. Gentle nudging from parents and caregivers can help to remind children of this regularly", said Maria Krautzberger.

Umweltbundesamt Headquarters

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

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