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Dutch 16-year-olds given free earplugs for shows

The municipality of Westervoort, in Gelderland (Guelders) province in the eastern Netherlands, is to provide free earplugs for those turning 16 in a bid to combat hearing damage from the “excessive volume” at concerts.

Local paper Westervoort Plaza reports that, as of 15 May, those approaching their 16th birthday will be sent a letter from the council advising them of the “need for protective measures, [such as] earplugs, when visiting concerts and festivals”. As a birthday present, young people will be provided with a set of “quality earplugs” specially designed for use with live music.

Westervoort alderman Arthur Boone says the scheme has been “received very well by [local health authority] Veiligheid en Gezondheidsregio Gelderland Midden and the National Hearing Foundation”, the latter of which is campaigning for a legal noise limit for live music.

“Worringly, earplugs are not standard on the list of what young people take to concerts, such as phone, money, ID and keys”

“Worryingly,” comments Boone, “earplugs are not standard on the list of what young people take to concerts, such as their phone, money, ID, keys…

“Alarmingly so, when you consider that damage to the ears is irreversible, and that young people can suffer the rest of their lives with a constant buzzing noise.”

The paper estimates the cost of hearing damage to the Dutch exchequer at being in the “millions of euros per year”, citing increased spending on disability payments and treatment for mental health problems.


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