The European Commission wants to create new laws to set a default maximum setting of 85 decibels on all MP3 players sold in the EU. Standardisation bodies will start working on these hearing safety proposals next month, and a final agreement is expected in the spring. Under the current plan, users would be able to override the default setting to reach a top limit of 100 decibels.
Dr Robin Yeoh, an audiology consultant at the Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust, said: "More and more young people are referred to me by their GPs with tinnitus or hearing loss as a direct result to exposure to loud music.
"It's the sort of damage that in the old days would have come from industrial noise.
"The damage is permanent and will often play havoc with their employment opportunities and their personal lives."