A smack in the face isn’t the only health issue associated with playing the vuvuzela. The irksome horns are also good at spreading germs around, according to a study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and UCL.
The researchers worked out the concentration of airborne particles spread by a blast on the instrument and compared it with the effects of shouting. The vuvuzela pumped out a mean of 658,000 particles per litre, while shouting spewed just 3,800. A short blast on the instrument, then, is roughly equivalent to an untrapped sneeze. Say the authors:
“We conclude that plastic blowing horns (vuvuzelas) have the capacity to propel extremely large numbers of aerosols into the atmosphere of a size able to penetrate the lower lung.” They recommend that anyone with a respiratory illness should avoid blowing on the horns as a precautionary measure.
The findings come as Olympic organisers discuss whether or not to ban the instrument at the 2012 games.
The research is published in PLoS One, an open access journal free for all to view.
Image by MartinHanna in the Londonist Flickr pool.