Dutch town considers giving birthday ear plugs to all 16-year-olds

Local officials in the Arnhem commuter town of Westervoort will today vote on whether or not to present all 16-year-olds with a set of earplugs to protect their hearing.

The gift will cost the council around €1,500 a year, according to alderman Arthur Boone, who is in charge of health. Some 175 youngsters turn 16 every year in Westervoort, which has a population of some 15,000.

‘€1,500 is a lot cheaper than the potential consequences of damage to hearing,’ Boone, who himself has hearing loss in one ear, said. The council is also considering handing out ear plugs at concerts and festivals.

According to research by hearing charity Hoorstichting, one in five youngsters suffers from some form of hearing damage due to loud music.