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World Cup and vuvuzela noise: At 120+ decibels, a hearing loss risk

Consumer Reports News: June 14, 2010 04:36 PM

The vuvuzela, the ubiquitous noisemaker anyone watching the World Cup this weekend will have heard, can blare at more than 120 decibels, yet as AFP online reported today, the international football federation FIFA has decided not to ban the horn-like devices during play.

It’s understandable from a cultural perspective why FIFA would refrain from outlawing the horns, which are considered a stadium staple in some countries. But at more than 120 decibels—a higher volume that what you’d experience at a rock concert—the long plastic horns are a hazard. Just one minute’s exposure to a sound above 100 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss, says the National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Indeed, if you’ve ever left a concert or event with your ears still ringing, you’ve probably done damage to your ears. And while you might not notice it immediately, regular, 8-hour-per-day exposure to noises above 85 decibels—the level of some lawn mowers and food blenders—will cause irreversible hearing loss.

If you think you or someone you know might already be suffering from hearing loss, take our quiz, " How do you know if you need a hearing aid?". And check out our comprehensive report on hearing loss and hearing aids.

Tobie Stanger, senior editor

Photo: Dundas Football Club

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