A small device producing high-pitched sounds that aims to shoo youngsters from entrance areas of stores and public places has long been used in Switzerland, and has recently been introduced in Germany—however, the noise is more than just unpleasant—it is damaging to young people’s hearing.

Some are dismayed by children hanging out or playing at entrances of certain public areas, stores, or other businesses, and the noise device, developed in the UK, was designed to drive them away.

The device emits high-frequency sounds at about 18.5 kilohertz, which is extremely uncomfortable for most kids and young adults under the age of 25. People older than 25 are usually unable to hear such high-pitched sounds.

An investigation by the German Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz (Worker’s Protection Agency) has found the devices produce noise levels as high as 104 dB, which can cause permanent hearing damage.

People who are exposed to such noise levels for longer periods may suffer from dizzyness, lack of balance, and headaches.

Children and young adults move away from areas with this type of noise, but infants and newborns, who may be tethered in strollers, cannot. The parents are unable to hear the noise and are unaware the children’s hearing is threatened, which may result in permanent hearing loss or other hearing damage for the children.

[Source: Forum gutes Hören, March 2008 and hear-it]