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World Cup Fans in South Africa Advised to Protect Hearing From Deafening Horns

June 14, 2010 -- The vuvuzela horn is the iconic sound of the South Africa 2010 World Cup, but a U.K. hearing loss charity is warning fans to protect their hearing from the loud plastic trumpets.

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) says there’s a risk of temporary tinnitus or permanent hearing damage posed by being surrounded by the plastic horns, which are popular with South African supporters.

If you are unlucky enough to have a vuvuzela just behind you in the stadium, you’ll endure more than 125 decibels of sound, which can hurt your hearing.

The vuvuzela is louder than a chain saw or lawn mower at 110 decibels and an ambulance siren at 120.

The hearing damage is likely to be made worse by noisy parties after the match -- win or lose.

Vuvuzelas: Tinnitus Risk

The RNID's senior audiology specialist, Angela King, says in a statement, "[Soccer] fans are running the risk of tinnitus -- ringing, whistling, humming or buzzing in their head or ears -- or permanently damaging their hearing if they don't tackle the cumulative effects of exposure to loud volumes from vuvuzelas and music during the World Cup.

"Noise over 85 decibels can cause damage over time. Vuvuzelas produce levels with more than five times that damage potential so we're urging supporters to ensure they don't score an own goal for their hearing and wear reusable earplugs in stadia and when partying in pubs, clubs and [soccer] festivals."

One fan who spoke to the RNID is 27-year-old Trevor Moody from London. He’s taken earplugs to protect his hearing during England's games.

"I've already lost some hearing through an infection in one of my ears and really value my hearing as a result,” he says. “Those vuvuzela trumpets sound like they won't be doing my hearing any favors, so I'll be wearing earplugs to protect myself and safely enjoy the party atmosphere in the stadia and, hopefully, all the celebrations in pubs and clubs as England progress!"

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