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Vuvuzelas face Olympics ban for spreading disease13th of June 2011
A ban on vuvuzelas at the London Olympics may be on the cards following research carried out at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The study revealed that the trumpets made famous at the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa can propel aerosol droplets at the rate of four million per second, potentially spreading germs faster than coughs and sneezes.
Dr Ruth McNerney carried out the research using eight volunteer vuvuzela-blowers. She measured the level of aerosol droplets produced by the instruments and then compared her findings with the amount of droplets produced via a normal shouting action.
An average of 658,000 aerosols were expelled from the instruments per litre of air at the rate of four million per second, compared with only 3,700 particles per litre at a rate of 7,000 per second when the volunteers were asked to shout.
"When attending a sporting event and surrounded by vuvuzela players, a spectator could expect to inhale large numbers of respiratory aerosols over the course of the event," said Dr McNerney
"Just as with coughs or sneezes, action should be taken to prevent disease transmission and people with infections must be advised against blowing their vuvuzelas close to other people."
A ban on vuvuzelas has not yet been announced but the irritating one-note trumpets may well have had their cards marked - particularly since it was recently announced that musical instruments have been outlawed from the Olympics altogether. Though whether the vuvuzela could ever be described as a "musical" instrument is a moot point.