The blaring noise from some children’s toys may have worse side effects than driving parents crazy.
Researchers from UC Irvine’s otolaryngology department found that some trendy toys — like the Road Rippers Lightning Rods and the I Am T-Pain Mic — reach decibel levels similar to a subway train or chain saw.
Researchers measured 10 popular toys’ loudness by holding them next to a speaker and from 12 inches away, which is the estimated length of a toddler’s outstretched arm. The two distances represent how children interact with toys, researchers said.
“Most of these toys, if used properly, they should be OK,” said Dr. Hamid R. Djalilian, a director of the study. “A lot of children try to find out where the sound is coming from, so they put the speaker against their ear, so that’s one of the issues.”
The study found that when next to the speakers, Road Rippers, T-Pain Mic and Tonka Mighty Motorized Fire Engine reached a decibel level of 100 or higher — the same as a subway train, chain saw or power motor.
At 12 inches away, the three toys reached the mid- to high 60s, similar to that of “cars to a close observer,” according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology.
Other toys — including the Marvel Super Shield Captain America, Sesame Street Let’s Rock Elmo, VTech Princess Magical Learning Wand, Toy Story Buzz Lightyear Cosmic Blaster and the Green Lantern Colossal Cannon Blaster — reached the 90-decibels-and-above range at the speaker, and ranged between 60 and 69 decibels when 12 inches away.
Noise above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss, with duration contributing to impairment as well, the American Academy of Otolaryngology states on its website. A decibel is a unit for measuring sound.
Djalilian got the idea for the study when he saw a child drop a toy he was playing with to run to the source of a noisier toy on another aisle.
Researchers suggest buying toys with speakers on the bottom and testing them in the store to see if they’re painful to the ear. For noisy, must-have toys already under the tree, they recommend supervision and putting tape over the speakers to lessen the sound.