Vuvuzela: Fans must use hearing protection devices — study

2010-05-10 00:00

RECENT studies conducted by the University of Pretoria’s department of communication pathology have revealed that the sound output of the vuvuzela may pose serious hearing healthcare risks for those attending Fifa World Cup matches this year.

Two studies were conducted by Professor De Wet Swanepoel and his team of researchers from the University of Pretoria. The first study measured the sound intensity and spectrum produced by an official vuvuzela at four distances, all within two metres, from the instrument.

The results were compared with the SA National Standard, which regulates occupational noise exposure in the country, and determined that a person exposed to more than a minute of vuvuzela blowing within a two-metre radius of the instrument runs a serious risk of permanent hearing loss.

The sound intensities recorded at each of the four recording sites “far exceeded the legislated levels of occupational noise exposure allowed without hearing protection”.

The second study saw Swanepoel and his team measure the noise levels at a Premier Soccer League match at an official World Cup training venue in Gauteng, which 30 000 people attended, many of them blowing vuvuzelas.

In addition, the auditory functioning of 10 fans at the stadium was measured before and after the game. The results confirmed what the initial study had indicated — that the sound intensity of the vuvuzela had the potential to cause auditory dysfunction. The average auditory functioning of the 10 fans had been seriously affected by the end of the game.

The findings lend weight to concerns expressed about the instrument during South Africa’s hosting of the Confederations Cup in 2009, said Swanepoel.

But since then, Fifa has given the vuvuzela its stamp of approval and it will most certainly be a part of the tournament.

Swanepoel believes that it is essential for fans to create public awareness surrounding the dangers of the vuvuzela before the World Cup so that hearing protection devices are used at stadiums.


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