Christmas toys may hurt children's hearing

You may still be shopping for toys for your little ones. You've thought about how fun and safe they are. But you may not be paying much attention to how loud they are.

They may be annoying but they could also be dangerous.

The federal government says under 85 decibels is a permissible standard in an 8 hour period, after that it could result in hearing loss.

We tested the toys on shelves this season to hear how loud they really register.
The outcome of our un-scientific study may be startling for parents.

They are colorful, entertaining and loud!

They capture your child's attention but sometimes experts say at the expense of damaging their ears.

Audiologist Dr. Ken Henry is the director of Professional Hearing Services in Northern Virginia.

Henry brought his decibel meter as we tested aisles of toys.

He tested toys that registered 85 decibels but says taken out of the package it would probably register 95-100 db.

Henry says at 85 decibels it could take 8 hours to cause permanent damage. For every 3 decibels over 85 the time is cut in half. So toys at 100 decibels could start damaging hair cells after only 15 minutes.

We found Krystal Morgan shopping for Christmas presents for her three children ages 5, 3 and 8 months.

Morgan says, "It never occurred to me that toys could be harming my children."

It's especially concerning for Morgan who says her children love loud toys.

Henry measured a Home Depot children's chain saw at 95 decibels and so did a Caterpillar toy CAT bulldozer.

Morgan wanted us to test toys she was considering for her children this Christmas.

Henry says a Leapfrog tag reading book registered at 100 decibels which he says is a dangerous level. The tag even has a plug in for ear phones.

Henry points out children play with toys differently putting their ears right against the speakers. Henry adds 85 decibels is still not all together healthy although it's permissible.

The noise levels at the store and at Morgan's family home even surprised our audiologist.

Henry says, "The fact that we found so many toys over 100 db yes!"

For mom and dad it was just as alarming.

The children's father, Grant Morgan says, "After seeing the sounds they are exposed to, it's scary."

Mom says she'll think twice about the toys she buys and possibly those they can live without.

Here's what parents can do:

1. Listen to it. If it sounds too loud it's too loud for your children.

2. Report the loud toy to the Consumer Product Safety Commission or Sight and Hearing Association.

3. Put masking tape over the speaker.

4. Buy toys that have volume control
For a complete list of the toys that made the loud toys study go to our web site.

According to the Sight and Hearing Associations Noisy Toys Study 2009:

1. Iron Man Mobile headquarters Touch Tech Marvel Action Vehicle measured 119.5 dB at 0 inches

2. Fisher Price Learning Letters Mailbox -- 113.9 dB

3. Sesame Street Help along Sing a Song -- 112.1 dB

4. Black and Decker Junior Chainsaw -- 111.4 dB

5. Baby Einstein Play-a-song Farm Friends -- 111.2 dB

6. Leapfrog Fridge Farm -- 110.9 dB

7. Transformers PowerBots Megatron Action Figure -- 109 dB

8. Road Rippers turbo Wheelie Corvette -- 108.1 dB

9. Transformers RPMs-Optimus Prime Radio Control AutoBot -- 107.8

10. Little Einstein's Play-a-song Where is Rocket? -- 107.5

Sight and Hearing Association measured in a sound proof booth.

9NEWS NOW used the decibel meter in a natural setting.

For the complete list of the Noisy Toys Study: