The maximum volume of music in discos, cafes and concert halls should be no louder than 102 decibels, the public health advisory group RIVM has told the health ministry.
The norms should be even lower for youngsters under the age of 16 because they are less capable of taking steps to prevent hearing damage, the RIVM said. The under-13s, for example, should be subject to noise levels of no more than 91 decibels for a maximum of 15 minutes.
Website Industrial Noise Control likens 100 decibels to the sound of a jet plane taking off 300 metres away or a powerful motorbike.
There are currently no official limits to noise in clubs and cafes and the focus until now has been on voluntary agreements. However, the risk of hearing damage is so acute that maximum volume levels should now be introduced, the RIVM said.
Given that people have different tolerance for loud noise, the government should also make sure the public are properly informed about how to reduce the risks, the RIVM said. These could include wearing ear protectors and taking noise-free intervals at a club or festival.
Junior health minister Paul Blokhuis has welcomed the report and said he will start talks with the entertainment sector shortly.
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