LOS ANGELES – That loud toy under the Christmas tree might do more than drive parents crazy.
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have found that some children’s toys, if held close enough, can reach decibel levels similar to a subway train or a chain saw.
The medical researchers measured the loudness of 10 popular toys from next to their speakers and from 12 inches away, the estimated length of a toddler’s outstretched arm.
The study found that next to their speakers, Road Rippers, T-Pain Mic and Tonka Mighty Motorized Fire Engine generated decibel levels of 100 or higher.
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 – topped 90 decibels next to the speaker.
Noise above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss, the American Academy of Otolaryngology says.
At 12 inches away, the tested toys generated less than 70 decibels.
“Most of these toys, if used properly, they should be OK,” said Dr. Hamid Djalilian, an otolaryngologist and director of the study. However, he said, “A lot of children try to find out where the sound is coming from, so they put the speaker against their ear.”
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.