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NYC mayor kicks off anti-earbud hearing safety campaign

As if supersized sodas weren't a big enough target, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a new target in his quest to improve the health of New Yorkers -- the earbud. As reported in the New York Post, Bloomberg is kicking off an educational campaign to warn city dwellers about the dangers of pumping up the volume to 11 when you are wearing in-ear headphones.

The US$250,000 initiative doesn't target the iPhone or iPod directly, but the original iPod and its successors are the devices that kicked off the earbud movement. Apple's website already hosts an FAQ about safe volume levels, and parents can control the maximum volume their kids' devices will climb to if they choose. also offers parent and teacher resources for preventing hearing loss.

At least one audiologist who spoke to NYC's CBS affiliate believes that the iPhone and iPod are the most hazardous earbud-bearing products out there. Dr. Won Choe said "I'm seeing a whole host of young teenagers who are coming in with early signs of noise-induced hearing loss," and cited Apple's products as problematic.

Of course, the good doctor may be seeing more iDevice-associated hearing issues because more New York teens have iDevices than other brands. The Post also noted noted that the iPod can be cranked up to 115 decibels (if you don't enable the volume limiter), which is well over the maximum safe level of 85 decibels.

So, iPod-using New Yorkers, are you going to listen to your mayor and turn down the volume or do you think he should just "bud" out and let you decide how to listen to your tunes?

Updated to clarify the initiative's target of high-volume earbuds.

[Via CBS 2 New York]