November 23, 2021
This year's list includes 19 out of 24 toys that tested louder than 85 dB, the level set by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety for mandatory hearing protection.
Saint Paul, MN – 19 out of 24 toys tested by Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) for their 24th Annual Noisy Toys List tested louder than 85 dB, which is the level set by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) for mandatory hearing protection.
The top toy this year is a screeching, screaming rubber chicken that makes a terrifying sound reaching 109.7 dB. Disney’s Moana Squeeze and Scream HeiHei by JAKKS Pacific is one of the loudest and most annoying toys we’ve ever tested. This startling toy is intended for children 3 years and up. At each squeeze a blood curdling sound emits from the mouth of the chicken. How this toy is entertaining, we’re not really sure, but it is so loud that hearing damage could be caused within a few short minutes. Even at a child’s arm length away, assuming a 3-year-old has the strength to squeeze the chicken, it continues to terrify at 92.3 dB. And because there is no way to muffle the sound coming from the chicken’s mouth, if it enters your home it will be forever loud and annoying!
Toys are required to meet the acoustic standard set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), which states that the sound-pressure level produced by toys shall not exceed 85 dB at 50 cm from the surface of the toy. While ASTM has acknowledged that 25 cm would be considered an average use distance for toys, they found 50 cm was a superior distance for measurement. And while there is no known sound limits that apply specifically for children, ASTM bases compliance on OSHA and U.S. military noise level limits for adults. According to SHA, “ASTM's testing standard is unreasonable. Toys should be tested based on how a child would play with it, not how an adult would play with it. If you watch a child playing with a sound-producing toy you will see them hold it close to their face, next to their ears, which is much closer than a child's arm's length of approximately 10 inches (25 cm), let alone 50 cm for an adult.”, explains Kathy Webb, Executive Director of SHA.
According to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), exposure to noise levels above 85 dB for no more than eight hours is the federal threshold for hearing protection. SHA reminds consumers that hearing loss is cumulative and it typically does not occur from one event; it gradually develops over time as we age and it is critically important that we protect children's hearing. If you own a smartphone, consumers can download a free sound level meter app that can measure the decibel level of a toy or, Webb suggests, “use your built-in sound level meter… your ears…they will do just fine, because if a toy sounds too loud to you, it is too loud for a child's young ears.”
Since we are still in the midst of COVID-19, you may find yourself shopping online or spending less time toy shopping at your favorite store this year. Most online stores offer generous return policies, so if you find yourself with a loud toy and you’d rather keep your house a little quieter, you can either return it or there are a few other options that SHA recommends will make it quieter in your house this holiday season; most toys have a volume control and you can adjust to the lowest setting; apply clear packing tape over the speaker of the toy; or remove the batteries. All these measures will reduce the sound level enough to make your child’s toy ear-safe.
Click here to download the complete 2021 Noisy Toys List©.
Minnesota-based Sight & Hearing Association is celebrating over 80 years of identifying and preventing vision and hearing loss, in partnership with other professional and community organizations by providing screenings, education and research.