Dispatch: Not Empty Noise

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As soccer fans around the world stay glued to their TVs to cheer on their favorite teams in the World Cup, those actually present at the games may be singing a sadder tune. Hear the World, a foundation launched by Swiss hearing-aid maker Phonak AG, warns that vuvuzelas, plastic horns favored by South African soccer fans and used during games, reach dangerously loud levels.

According to the foundation, extended exposure at 100 decibels for 15 minutes or more can cause permanent hearing loss, and since vuvuzelas measure at 127 decibels, spectators are at risk.

Stier points out the double standard: “This is a real health risk, yet the likes of the precautionary European Union, which has many citizens at the South African games, are ignoring it.” He adds, “The EU is probably more concerned about the plastic in the horns than the deafening noise they produce.”