If you thought that the prawn sandwich brigade was killing the atmosphere in football stadiums then think again.

A study by a South African University has revealed sound levels in stadiums could lead to permanent hearing damage.

Researchers conducted tests at a soccer match with blaring vuvuzelas, a form of plastic trumpet used by crowds to generate support, and found the sound levels to be worrying high.

The study tested the hearing of 11 spectators before and after they attended a Premier Soccer League match with an attendance of just over 30,000.

During the game, participants wore personal sound exposure meters which found an average sound exposure of 100.5 decibels over the two hours in the stadium.

The maximum peak reached 144.2 decibels raising considerable concern for the author the study, Dr De Wet Swanepoel of the University of Pretoria.

He said: "Official match stadiums for the 2010 FIFA World Cup will house 90,000 spectators, three times more than the stadium used in this study.

"It is reasonable to suspect that sound intensity will be even higher in the larger official venues."

The eight venues set to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa all exceed a capacity of 40,000, with four stadiums able to seat over 60,000.

There have been calls to ban vuvuzelas from the tournament but FIFA are keen to retain the African custom and have so far resisted imposing sanctions.

It is good news for canny business entrepreneurs as one South African company is marketing foam earplugs specially designed for the World Cup.

Posted on 23/04/2010