Whether or not you're a soccer (er, football) fan, you've probably come across news reports about the infamous and ubiquitous vuvuzela. Yesterday the president of soccer's governing body said he wouldn't support a "ban of the music traditions of fans in their own country" during the World Cup, as some have called for, but his comments are unlikely to stop the controversy.
The loud buzz of the horn-like instrument is a distraction for many World Cup viewers - but the greater, more serious issue is the hearing-loss risk facing those actually at the games. As discussed in the U.K.'s Telegraph today:
Now, new tests have shown that the instrument is so loud, they pose a more immediate health risk to fans and players at the World Cup.
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.
Also today, a South African manufacturer said he has a quieter vuvuzela to offer fans - but even this softer version is louder than the average rock concert.