The European Union told music lovers Monday to turn down the volume of MP3 players, saying they risk permanent hearing loss from listening too long at maximum levels.
EU scientists reported that between 2.5 million and 10 million Europeans could suffer hearing loss from listening to MP3 players at unsafe volumes — over 89 decibels — for more an hour daily for at least five years.
EU spokeswoman Helen Kearns said the EU executive was asking people, especially children and young people, "to turn it down" now because they may be damaging their hearing without noticing it.
"It's damage that may come back and haunt you later in life," she said at a news conference.
She said regulators would look next year at lowering the EU legal limit of 100 decibels for MP3 players.
Apple was forced to pull its iPod player from store shelves in France and upgrade software on the device to limit sound to 100 decibels.
The Cupertino, California-based company ships a warning with each iPod that cautions "permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume."
EU noise rules are meant to limit noise levels in the workplace, construction sites, factories and even orchestras.