Irvine, Calif — HR reported recently on Sight & Hearing Association’s 2011 Noisy Toy List. Now, researchers from University of California – Irvine’s Department of Otolaryngology have added to the list, measuring 10 popular toys for precise gauging in a soundproof booth. All exceeded 90 decibels or more when measured at the toy’s speaker.

A few of the toys on UC Irvine’s list are also on the Sight & Hearing list, and both research teams noted that the toys, if played with properly, are safe and meet Federal guidelines.

However, problems can arise if a noisy toy is held too close to the ears, said Dr Hamid Djalilian (pictured), associate professor of otolaryngology and director of neurotology and skull base surgery. His researchers tested the sound levels at the speaker and again at 12 inches, about the length of a toddler’s arm:

Toys tested / Decibel level at the speaker / Decibel level 12 inches from the speaker:

  1. Road Rippers Lightning Rods / 108 / 68
  2. I Am T-Pain microphone / 101 / 64
  3. Tonka Mighty Motorized Fire Truck / 100 / 69
  4. Marvel Super Shield Captain America / 98 / 69
  5. Whac-A-Mole game / 95 / 69
  6. Tapz electronic reflex game / 95 / 65
  7. Sesame Street Let’s Rock Elmo / 95 / 74
  8. VTech Magical Learning Wand / 94 / 69
  9. Toy Story Buzz Lightyear Cosmic Blaster / 93 / 60
  10. Green Lantern Colossal Cannon / 92 / 67

At speaker level, each toy exceeded the 85 decibel limit recommended by the American Academy of Otolaryngology, which states that above this limit, the loudness and duration can cause hearing loss. The louder a sound is, the less time it takes to cause hearing loss, noted Djalilian.

Djalilian suggested that one solution for someone buying a potentially noisy toy is to pay attention to the speaker’s location. When the speaker is located under the item, it is often better than when it is located on top.

Djalilian also recommended that an adult hold the toy as a youngster would and listen to its sound. "If it hurts your ears," he said, "then it’s probably too loud for a child."

SOURCE: University of California – Irvine, Department of Otolaryngology