FIFA – Vuvuzela horn may cause hearing loss and flu hazard


FIFA soccer world cup 2010 madness is on peak and it is a festival time in South Africa.  I am sure you have had a chance to enjoy some of the soccer games.  Well, I watched couple of FIFA games and I heard a noise in the background that resonated with swarm-of-bees.  It was seemed to be a strange noise and to my recollection, I have not heard that type of noise before.  I was browsing news about FIFA this morning and learned that the noise was from plastic horns called as vuvuzela horn.   

It looks like the vuvuzela horn has created a lot of controversy.  Many viewers around the globe are not particularly a fan of the noise created by vuvuzela horn.  Also, some of the soccer players have complaint about difficulty in communicating with their team mates due to the noise.  Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA governing body, said in a Twitter post. “I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country.”    

Well, noise from vuvuzela horn in FIFA will take its own time to settle down; I would like to share couple of reports that speak to the health hazard due to vuvuzela horn. One of the studies speaks about the potential of hearing loss due to vuvuzela horn and another one says it can spread cold and flu.  Let’s take a look at these reports:  

What are the noise levels emanating from vuvuzela horn?
It was revealed that vuvuzela horn emitted sound with 127 decibel noise level.  As a reference, noise level from lawn mower can be around 90 decibel and from chainsaw around 100 decibel.    

How can the high noise level from vuvuzela horn affect hearing?
Experts say that extended exposure to noise level greater than 85 decibel can cause permanent damage to hearing abilities.  When you are exposed to noise level greater than 100 decibel, hearing loss can happen in just 15 mins.  Robert Beiny, UK and European Audiologist of the Year said: “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.”  

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How can vuvuzela horn increase risk for cold or flu?
Vuvuzela horn is a plastic tube which is blown by your mouth.  Flu season in South Africa is in elevated state and as per Dr. Ruth McNerney of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, “Vuvuzelas have the potential to spread colds
and flu as a lot of breath goes through the vuvuzela.” 

A study was conducted involving Dr. McNerney, in which 80 people blew into vuvuzela horns. The study revealed that tiny drops were formed at the bottom on vuvuzela. These tiny drops can carry flu and cold germs.  Dr. McNerney said that these tiny drops can stay suspended in air for hours and can enter into another person’s airway.  Dr. Maggi Soer of the Department of Communication Pathology at the University of Pretoria agreed that it could be harmful, especially because people often share vuvuzelas by passing it along to each other to blow.   

Dr. Soer also acknowledged the potential of hearing loss due to high noise level from vuvuzela horn and recommended spectators to use ear plugs.  It was also reported that “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.”   

FIFA is not willing to meddle with the cultural aspect of vuvuzela horns and would like South African fans to enjoy the games by blowing vuvuzela horns. FIFA soccer world cup returns after every four year, I would say go ahead and enjoy it, but take some precautions to avoid excessive exposure to high noise level and tiny droplets.  

Healthy Viewing! 


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