Study Links Personal Music Players To Hearing Loss
2) Instead of cheap earbuds, invest in some good IEMs. Yes, it is going to run you $100-300. Deal with it. If you can drop hundreds on a iPod, you can drop hundreds on good phones to go with it.
Agreed that good isolation headphones will let you listen at a much safer volume level. But there is no need to spend tons on pro-quality phones if you just want something that's going to block out the background noise better. Check out Koss "The Plug" or "Sparkplug" model--they're under $12 at Amazon and sound much, much better than most cheap headphones. They've easily given me the best bang-for-the-buck on any audio gear I've purchased over the years.