World cup fans warned about the risk of hearing damage from Vuvuzela
07.06.2009, Stäfa, Switzerland
South African football fans’ instrument of choice, the vuvuzela horn, has already caused controversy ahead of the World Cup with authorities concerned that their excessive volume could prevent people from hearing announcements should a stadium need to be evacuated. Now, new tests have shown that the instrument is so loud, they pose a more immediate health risk to fans and players.
The long, plastic, trumpet-shaped vuvuzela was found to emit an ear piercing noise of 127 decibels – louder than a lawnmower (90 decibels) and a chainsaw (100 decibels). Extended exposure at just 85 decibels puts us at a risk of permanent noise induced hearing loss. When subjected to 100 decibels or more, hearing damage can occur in just 15 minutes.
The most popular football fan instruments from across the world were tested in a sound proof studio as part of Hear the World, a global initiative by leading hearing system manufacturer Phonak to raise awareness about the importance of hearing and the consequences of hearing loss. The distance between the sound source and the testing device was 10 cm and the test was carried out using benchmark filter A under the IEC standard, as this represents actual hearing perception. The test series was monitored and logged by an audiologist from Phonak AG.
Second most harmful to our ears was the air-horn, popular with English football fans, which exposes our ears to damage inducing levels of 123.6 decibels. This was followed by the drum, which reached a level of 122 decibels. Popular with supporters on the stands as well as being used on the pitch, the referee’s whistle was the fourth most harmful to our ears at 121.8 decibels, but passionate fans alone can be just as problematic - two singing supporters reached 121.6 decibels.
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.”
- Vuvuzela 127 dB (A)
- Air-horn 123.6 dB (A)
- Samba drum 122.2 dB (A)
- Referee whistle 121.8 dB (A)
- 2 fans singing 121.6 dB (A)
- Gas horn 121.4 dB (A)
- Cowbell 114.9 dB (A)
- Wooden rattle 108.2 dB (A)
- Inflatable Fan-Sticks 99.1 dB (A)
Robert Beiny continues: “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.”
“My advice to fans would be to enjoy the atmosphere that the World Cup creates, but also to consider their hearing. Why not give their ears a break from the noisy atmosphere at half time, or if they are one of the lucky ones heading to South Africa, remember to pack some earplugs - once the damage is done it is irreversible so prevention is key.”
Valentin Chapero, Chief Executive of Phonak said: “Of course the sound of the crowd plays a major part in creating the atmosphere in a football stadium. But people should remember that prolonged exposure to loud noises can have a big impact and therefore it is imperative that we take conscious measures to protect our hearing before it’s too late.”
About "Hear the World"
Hear the World is a global initiative by leading hearing system manufacturer Phonak created to raise awareness about the importance of hearing. The initiative calls attention to the social and emotional impact of hearing loss and addresses prevention of and solutions to a problem that affects more than 16% of the world’s population. Bryan Adams, Annie Lennox, Sting, Plácido Domingo and other renowned personalities support the Hear the World initiative as ambassadors. In the context of the Hear the World initiative, Phonak has established the non-profit Hear
the World Foundation to improve the quality of life of people with hearing loss through financial and technical assistance. The foundation is committed to the prevention of hearing loss as well as the support of people with hearing loss and their families.
To learn more about Hear the world visit www.hear-the-world.com, become a fan on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/CanYouHearTheWorld and follow the Hear the World Twitter channel at www.Twitter.com/Hear_The_World.
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Headquartered near Zurich, Switzerland, Phonak, a member of Sonova Group, has developed, produced and globally distributed state-of-the-art hearing systems and wireless devices for more than 60 years. The combination of expertise in hearing technology, mastery in acoustics and strong cooperation with hearing care professionals allows Phonak to significantly improve people’s hearing ability and speech understanding and therefore their quality of life.
Phonak offers a complete range of digital hearing instruments, along with complementary wireless communication systems. With a worldwide presence, Phonak drives innovation and sets new industry benchmarks regarding miniaturization and performance.