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S Afr Med J. 2010 Mar 30;100(4):239-42.

Football match spectator sound exposure and effect on hearing: a pretest-post-test study.

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  • 1Department of Communication Pathology, University of Pretoria and Callier Center for Communication Disorders, University of Texas at Dallas, USA.



To determine (i) noise exposure levels of spectators at a FIFA 2010 designated training stadium during a premier soccer league match; and (ii) changes in auditory functioning after the match.


This was a one-group pretest-post-test design of football spectators attending a premier soccer league match at a designated FIFA 2010 training stadium in Gauteng, South Africa. Individual spectator noise exposure for the duration of the football match and post-match changes in hearing thresholds were measured with pure-tone audiometry, and cochlear functioning was measured with distortion product oto-acoustic emissions (DPOAEs).


The average sound exposure level during the match was 100.5 LAeq (dBA), with peak intensities averaging 140.4 dB(C). A significant (p=0.005) deterioration of post-match hearing thresholds was evident at 2 000 Hz, and post-match DPOAE amplitudes were significantly reduced at 1,266, 3,163 and 5,063 Hz (p=0.011, 0.019, 0.013, respectively).


Exposure levels exceeded limits of permissible average and peak sound levels. Significant changes in post-match hearing thresholds and cochlear responsiveness highlight the possible risk for noise-induced hearing loss. Public awareness and personal hearing protection should be prioritized as preventive measures.

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