Recent tests by Phonak on the noise levels emitted by vuvuzelas revealed it could cause great and instant damage to hearing compared to other noise generating objects including the whistle used by referees in matches.
The instruments were tested in a sound proof studio as part of a global initiative ‘ ‘Hear the World’ aimed at bringing awareness about the importance of hearing. Hearing loss affects 1 in six people.
Each vuvuzela blown during the games could emit ear piercing pitch of 127 decibels (dB). This was higher than that of a chainsaw and lawnmower measured at 100 dB and 90dB respectfully.
Robert Beiny, an international Audiologist said if a sound was 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.”
Other harmful instruments included the air-horn, popular among English football fans with up to 123 dB followed by a drum and a referees whistle. It is expected that vuvuzelas will feature prominently during the Soccer World Cup.
Beiny warned fans not expect their hearing to be under threat during matches only.
‘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,’ he explained.
He advised fans to enjoy the World Cup cheer but urged those that would be lucky enough to attend live games to take earplugs along.
‘Once the damage is done it is irreversible, so prevention is key’ warned Beiny.
A noise emission rate list of the instruments tested:
– Vuvuzela 127 dB
– Air-horn 123.6 dB
– Samba drum 122.2 dB
– Referee whistle 121.8 dB
– 2 fans singing 121.6 dB
– Gas horn 121.4 dB
– Cowbell 114.9 dB
– Wooden rattle 108.2 dB
– Inflatable Fan-Sticks 99.1 dB