Vuvuzela 'poses hearing loss risk'

JUST days after Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the Local Organising Committee, announced that the vuvuzela would be "part of this World Cup" the Ear Institute has warned that the popular horn could cause permanent ear damage.

What's more, it's the fans on the benches that will suffer ear-piercing damage more than the players.

The most popular football fan instruments from across the world were tested as part of Hear the World, an initiative by hearing systems manufacturer Phonak, to raise awareness about the importance of hearing and the results of hearing loss.

The vuvuzela came out as the most harmful, followed by the air-horn, which is popular with English fans, the drum and the referee's whistle.

The institute found that the vuvuzela emitted a noise of 127 decibels - louder than a lawnmower (90dB) and a chainsaw (100dB).

Extended exposure at just 85 decibels puts soccer fans at risk of permanent noise-induced hearing loss.

"There are various hearing protection devices, from foam plugs to ear-muffs and banded ear-plugs, to help protect fans," the institute's Cheryl van der Merwe said.

Valentin Chapero of Phonak said: "The sound of the crowd plays a major part in creating the atmosphere in a stadium.

"But prolonged exposure to loud noises can have a big impact. It is imperative to protect our hearing before it's too late."