Parliamentary reporters at risk of losing their hearing

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Listening to noisy MPs can damage your health. Many have long suspected it was so, but research has now highlighted the potential risks of listening to too many politicians' speeches. The official Hansard reporters, who spend hours transcribing tape recordings of MPs in debate, are in danger of losing their hearing.

Investigations showed that too many of the reporters, who produce the official record of proceedings in Westminster, were spending too long with their headphones turned up too high.

This raised the risk of hearing problems or tinnitus - regardless of the political persuasion of the speaker, according to the researcher, Dr Mike Lower of the University of Southampton's Institute of Sound and Vibrations.

"It doesn't matter what the content is, whoever they happen to represent or whether they are pleasant or unpleasant," he said.

It is well-established that loud noise can damage hearing, but little research has been done on the effect of noise through earphones. It is thought they might amplify sounds to risky levels.