World Cup 2010: Fans warned vuvuzelas could damage hearing

Be careful who you sit next to...
Supporters at the World Cup have been warned about the potential dangers of over-exposure to vuvuzelas, with the plastic instrument being found to be louder than either a chainsaw or a lawnmower.

The instrument has been the subject of much opprobium from television spectators around the world, with others concerned that safety announcements will not be heard in the stadia due to the noise the instrument generates.

Some players have also hinted that the sound levels make on-field communication very difficult.

Tests conducted by the leading hearing system manufacturer Phonak have shown that the vuvuzela emits a noise as loud as 127 decibels.

That is also louder than an air horn (123.6 decibels), as well as a drum, which reaches 122 decibels.

A lawnmower registers at 90 decibels whilst a chainsaw blasts out 100 decibels. A cow bell scores 114.9 decibels.

"To put it in perspective, when a sound is increased by ten decibels our ears perceive it as being twice as loud so we would consider the vuvuzela to be more than double the volume of the cowbell," Robert Beiny, UK and European Audiologist of the Year, told The Daily Telegraph.

“It’s not just while sitting in the stands at a match that hearing damage can happen.

"Our ears can be exposed to damaging noise levels when in the pub surrounded by excited cheering fans, or even while at home, with people often turning the sound on their television up very loud in order to create an atmosphere when watching from their sofa."

A person's hearing is put at risk by prolonged exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels, whilst hearing damage can occur after just 15 minutes of exposure to volume levels of 100 decibels or more.

There are no plans to ban the vuvuzela from the grounds in South Africa.

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