Whilst Mike Ritchie (Letters, February 15) regrets, with a whiff nostalgia, the demise of independent record shops and forecasts a similar fate for independent book shops, it occurs to me that in fact these establishments operate at opposite ends of the spectrum.

One will invariably be playing loud music, but the other should be a peaceful haven giving the reader the opportunity to browse and ponder in peace and quiet.

As it is, I often wonder about the employees working in shops and such premises (for example, gyms) who, daily are exposed to the potentially harmful effects of often very loud music which will not be apparent until these workers are quite a bit older.

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Setting set aside the mind-numbing boredom factor, as these tapes are invariably on a loop, I felt Usdaw, the shop workers' union, would be able to advise if any research had been undertaken. Having now written three times to the union – including to its general secretary – but not having solicited a response, I am assuming that the very trade union which boasts some 426,000 members has not undertaken any research into the long-term effect of loud music on its members. Whilst concern is currently being expressed about obesity, the unrecognised causes of deafness in middle to old age have yet to be recognised and addressed.

Alan McKinney,

10 Beauchamp Road, Edinburgh.