Original articles

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

De Wet Swanepoel, James W Hall


Objectives. 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.

Methods. 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).

Results. 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).

Conclusions. 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 prioritised as preventive measures.

Authors' affiliations

De Wet Swanepoel, University of Pretoria & University of Texas at Dallas

James W Hall, University of Pretoria & University of Florida

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Hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss,

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2010;100(4):239-242.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-02-24
Date published: 2010-03-30

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