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Some children's toys as loud as a chain saw, UCI study says

December 23, 2011 |  9:36 am

UC Irvine study shows that some loud toys reach high decibel levels
That loud toy under the Christmas tree might do more than drive parents crazy. Researchers at UC Irvine have found that some children's toys, if held close enough, can reach decibel levels similar to a subway train or a chain saw.

The medical researchers measured the loudness of 10 popular toys from next to their speakers and from 12 inches away, the estimated length of a toddler's outstretched arm.

The study found that next to their speakers, Road Rippers, T-Pain Mic and Tonka Mighty Motorized Fire Engine generated decibel levels of 100 or higher — as loud as a subway train or chain saw.

Other toys — including the Marvel Super Shield Captain America, Sesame Street Let's Rock Elmo, VTech Princess Magical Learning Wand, Toy Story Buzz Lightyear Cosmic Blaster and the Green Lantern Colossal Cannon Blaster — topped 90 decibels next to the speaker.

Noise above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss, the American Academy of Otolaryngology says on its website.

At 12 inches away, the tested toys generated less than 70 decibels.

"Most of these toys, if used properly, they should be OK," Dr. Hamid R. Djalilian, an otolaryngologist and director of the study, told the Daily Pilot. However, he said, "A lot of children try to find out where the sound is coming from, so they put the speaker against their ear."

Djalilian got the idea for the study when he saw a child drop a toy he was playing with to run to the source of a noisier toy on another aisle.

Researchers suggest buying toys with speakers on the bottom and testing them in the store to see if they're painful to the ear. For noisy, must-have toys already under the tree, they recommend supervision and putting tape over the speakers to lessen the sound.


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-- Lauren Williams, Times Community News

Photo: The Tonka Mighty Motorized Fire Engine: It's loud. Credit: Times Community News