The European Commission introduced new volume standards for MP3 players yesterday, which will supposedly help prevent music lovers from damaging their hearing. The new standard requires devices like Apple's iPod to be tweaked so they play at a safe volume by default, and it there will be a health warning when users attempt to override this setting.

According to European Union Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva, "young people" are listening to music at high volumes for extended periods, and may not be aware of the risks involved. This comes after an EU scientific body warned that up to 10 million young people are in danger of damaging their hearing by playing their MP3 players too loud. Kuneva said 5 to 10% of MP3 users risk permanent hearing loss if they listen to blaring tunes for more than 1 hour per day, each week over at least 5 years.

The Commission plans to adopt the standards for new products after a 24-month consultation procedure with scientists, industry and consumers. I don't know about you, but I've thoroughly enjoyed blasting my music every day for the last decade. I suppose my ears are toast.