NCBI ROFL: World Cup Week: Vuvuzela – Good for your team, bad for your ears.

By ncbi rofl | July 1, 2010 7:00 pm

vuvuzelapic“Traditionally made from a kudu horn, the vuvuzela was used to call together meetings and could be heard by distant peoples summoned to attend. Today soccer stadiums in South Africa are invariably filled with its loud and raucous sound, which reverberates with energy to the exhilaration of supporters… …Despite complaints by international commentators, players and audiences, FIFA has approved the Vuvuzela as part of the signature South African World Cup. It is not surprising, however, that the international soccer community would be astounded at the loudness of the vuvuzela and its non-stop chorus throughout the duration of a soccer match. To determine exactly what intensity of sound the vuvuzela produces, and the possible related hearing risks, a calibrated type 1 sound level meter was used to measure the sound intensity and spectrum produced by an official vuvuzela at four distinct distances from the bell of the instrument where the sound exits.

The measurements included a recording at the ear of the person blowing the vuvuzela, at the bell, and at 1- and 2-metre distances from the bell. A person without prior experience with a vuvuzela blew it while two recordings were made at each of the four sound recording sites. To ensure an equivalent environment to a typical open stadium game, the recordings were made outside on a large open lawn area. The maximum sound output, averaged between the two recordings at each recording site, varied between 113 and 131 dBA (Fig. 1). The intensities between repeated measures for separate instances of blowing the vuvuzela varied by less than 1.4 dB for all recording sites except the 2-metre distance condition, where it varied by 4.6 dB between the first (114.9 dBA) and second (110.3 dBA) recording. According to the South African National Standard regulating occupational noise exposure in South Africa, no one within a 2-metre radius of a vuvuzela, including the person blowing it, should be exposed to it continually for more than a minute.

vuvuzela

Photo: flickr/whatleydude

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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl

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