"There are more enjoyable ways of becoming deaf." This was the joke circulating yesterday in Brussels after an EU Commission spokesman had explained the current reasoning behind the planned ban of vuvuzelas in the EU at the daily meeting with the press.
In the wake of health authorities warnings that vuvuzelas, the plastic drones used by South African football fans, produce noise levels between 100 and 130 decibels depending on size, EU authorities admitted considering banning their production and importation. Exposition to 100 decibels for a quarter of an hour can produce irreversible hear damage.
According to the EU Commission the choice is easy: vuvuzelas offer little entertaining value and create major health hazards, therefore banning vuvuzelas sounds like the logical choice. The device is of little cultural value, as it only produces one note and can hardly be considered a musical instrument. On the other hand vuvus can produce tinnitis (ear ringing) and hearing loss which the EU combats with its environmental and work noise directives.
In Geneva meanwhile, the General Director of the World Health Organization warned yesterday that the vuvuzela fever might rapidly spread around the world. Britain is especially threatened as Sainsbury sold 22,000 units before the England game on June 12th.
Following several complaints for ear damages filed on Monday by parents of small children that received Sainsbury's "vuvu horns" as a gift, a Sainsbury spokesman denied the supermarket chain had any plans of recalling the musical instruments it had sold.