Dutch government considers stricter rules to prevent hearing damage from festivals

Dutch State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen (Public Health) wants to introduce stricter rules to prevent hearing damage, especially among young people. What does that mean for the many festivals in the Netherlands?

Van Ooijen is considering lowering the maximum allowable noise level at festivals, he tells Metronieuws. He is also considering expanding hearing screening in elementary school. Before making any decisions, the state secretary is waiting for the Health Council’s advice. Hearing damage is a huge problem in the Netherlands, we already noticed that many times.

‘More needs to be done’

The cabinet’s commitment was confirmed yesterday by a spokesman for the secretary of state following reports in the Algemeen Dagblad. Van Ooijen, like doctors and audiologists, is concerned about hearing damage. It may be a headline, but young people in particular contract it and the reason is usually loud music. The Ministry of Health has been working for years to prevent hearing damage. But more needs to be done, Van Ooijen believes.

At the request of the minister, the Health Council is coming up with an advice on maximizing the noise level at 100 decibels (Db) at festivals, in cinemas and in gyms. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended this as the maximum. The Netherlands now has a maximum of 103 Db, says Metronieuws.

In addition, the Health Council is issuing an opinion on the possibilities of establishing a legal duty of care for organizers of (music) festivals. This is to protect their visitors, although many festivals already work with earplugs – free or otherwise. The Health Council is also looking at other possibilities to prevent hearing damage through national measures. Now, this can occur not only at festivals, but also when listening to “music that is too loud via smartphone or other personal music players.”

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