Noisy stadiums are standard issue in professional sports, but at the World Cup in South Africa, fans in the stadium and on TV are growing increasingly agitated by the noise created by vuvuzelas.
The roughly 3-foot-long plastic horn has been a traditional fan favorite at South African matches, but they put out an ear-aching 127 decibels of sound. And when thousands of them are blown at the same time, players can have trouble hearing themselves think, and viewers can have trouble hearing the announcers.
The threshold of human hearing is 0 decibels. Sustained exposure to sounds above 80 decibels can cause hearing damage. At 120 decibels, pain ensues. And sounds of about 150 decibels can rupture eardrums. Vuvuzelas clock in at 127 decibels, the loudest noisemaker in the stadium.
(Decibels measure the intensity of sound logarithmically. So, increasing a sound by 10 decibels means making it 10 times louder; a 20-decibel increase is 100 times louder, a 30-decibel increase is a 1,000 times louder, etc.)
But despite concerns for eardrum safety, FIFA has decided not to ban the longtime fan favorite.
How loud are vuvuzelas? Here's a comparative chart of sound levels.
Christopher Foeckler is a student at Christendom College and a National Journalism Center intern with AOL News.