Article excerpt

Byline: By EMILY COOK, Health Correspondent

NOISY toys can harm children's hearing, it was claimed yesterday.

Fourteen out of 15 tested by UK charity Deafness Research produced noise levels above the recommended safety limit of 85 decibels when close to the ear.

Some were so loud they could cause permanent hearing loss and half had levels above or very near safety limits even when held 25cm away.

According to the researchers, toy guns are by far the most dangerous.

They tested a machine gun, tommy gun and cap gun and found all have the potential to cause serious damage.

Toy guns from Smiffy's had peak levels of 130db and 143dB at 2.5cm, and of between 120 to 140dB at 25cm. Experts from the Ear Institute at University College London tried out a selection of Christmas bestsellers - including Pixar Cars Lightning McQueen and Fireman Sam's Action Jupiter.

Eight ranged from 81dB to 105dB with just one, the VTech Tiny Touch Phone. comfortably below at 72.1 dB.

Dr. Brad Backus, a research fellow at University College London's Ear Institute, said: "Some of the guns were so loud my ears were ringing after the testing. If I had children, I wouldn't give any of these gun toys to them, and I would recommend that people avoid them. They have the very real potential to cause permanent hearing loss.

"Our advice is don't let your child hold noisy toys too close to their ear and don't let them play with them for more than an hour a day."

Vivienne Michael, chief executive of Deafness Research UK, said: "Exposure to too much loud noise can cause irreversible damage to the inner ear. …