Vuvuzela poses risk of hearing damage, warns Ear Institute

CONTROVERSY is dogging the vuvuzela, the popular stadium horn that has become a feature at World Cup games.

This week the Ear Institute lambasted the plastic trumpet, saying it could cause permanent ear damage.

The institute is so concerned that it is backing a leading hearing aid manufacturer, Phonak, who has developed a device to filter out the endless drone of the vuvuzela.

"As part of its Hear the World initiative, the experts from hearing aid manufacturer Phonak helped start the debate about the risk of hearing damage from the vuvuzela when they conducted sound measurements," Ear Institute spokesperson Cheryl van der Merwe said.

"The measurements found that it (vuvuzela) reached an ear splitting 127 decibels (dB) - louder than a lawnmower.

"Because of this they developed a protection unit that enables its users to stay connected to the overall atmosphere in the stadium and engage in regular verbal communication, while being protected from dangerously loud noise levels."

Van der Merwe said the vuvuzela protection plugs differed vastly from the normal ear pieces used to minimise noise effect because it was an electronic unit.

"Foam ear plugs have only one level of protection (they cannot be set for differing noise situations)."

Last week Fifa ruled out a ban on the vuvuzelas following an outcry from players and the storm around who the rightful owners of the stadium horn ended when leaders of the Nazareth Baptist Church and Masincedane Sport Company reached an agreement.