To the Editor:
After a recent middle school dance, kids were waiting for their parents to pick them up and joking that their ears were ringing. The next morning, six kids were still joking that their ears were ringing, and a week and a half later, one of the children's ears still had ringing, and it was no longer a joke when the doctor informed her that the music was too loud. Why one child was affected for longer than the others is a mystery, but according to Dr. Michael Thwing at SVMC Pediatrics, there are OSHA standards for adults that state decibel levels "over 85 are potentially dangerous and can cause long lasting ringing of ears and hearing loss." The Centers for Disease Control puts a loud cafeteria at 85 decibels and recommends no more than 8 hours exposure time. For decibels over that, the time limit for safe exposure drops quickly.
For a rock concert at 110 decibels, the CDC recommends only 1.5 minutes, total. At the Dorset School, the principal has an App downloaded on her phone to measure the decibel level at dances, and as a parent, I would urge the principals and DJs at all the local schools to follow this example and use a similar gauge to ensure that the kids are protected.
Better yet, maybe it's time to reinvent a less club-driven atmosphere and let middle-school dances be an excuse to decorate the gym around a theme, have brighter lighting the better to see the decorations, and music loud enough to dance to but quiet enough to make conversation without having to yell in a friend's ear.
If you've ever had tinnitus even for a few seconds, you would not wish it on a child.
Reading, studying, focusing of any kind, not to mention sleep are a fight of mind over ringing. People with tinnitus lose the peace we all take for granted that can come with silence. Why chance it?