Mayor Bloomberg - who has already cracked down on smoking, trans fats, salt and super-sized drinks - is embarking on a new crusade: preventing New Yorkers from going deaf.
Hizzoner's health officials are planning a social-media campaign to warn young people about the risk of losing their hearing from listening to music at high volume on personal MP3 players, The Post has learned.
"With public and private support, a public-education campaign is being developed to raise awareness about safe use . . . and risks of loud and long listening," said Nancy Clark, the city Health Department's assistant commissioner of environmental-disease prevention.
The campaign, which will cost $250,000, is being financed through a grant received from the Fund for Public Health, the Health Department's fund-raising arm.
The Hearing Loss Prevention Media Campaign will target teens and young adults, conducting focus-group interviews and using social- media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Bloomberg has had a bug about ear-splitting rackets since taking office at City Hall, making noise reduction one of his key quality- of-life initiatives.
In 2005, he signed a law - "Operation Silent Night" - overhauling the noise code. It cracked down on jolting jackhammer sounds at construction sites and on music blaring out of clubs, helping "make New York quieter and more liveable."
But the new initiative is more personal.
The iPod generation is the first to use "buds" that are inserted directly into the ears. And modern music players are more of a threat to hearing than the Sony Walkman of the 1980s, experts say.
The new players hold thousands of songs and have longer-life batteries, which results in more extended and high-volume listening, health experts said.
An iPod at maximum volume reaches 115 decibels. Research says 85 decibels is safe.
Hearing loss skyrocketed 30 percent among teens between 1988 and 2006, according to data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
City officials declined comment on whether they will turn to famous musicians to help get the message out. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary has partnered with Sting to encourage people to get their hearing tested.
Originally published by Carl Campanile.
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