Impulsive aerosol dispersion during wind instrument playing

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PLoS One. 2022 Mar 3;17(3):e0262994. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0262994. eCollection 2022.


Musical activities, particularly singing and playing wind instruments, have been identified as potentially high-risk activities for transmission of SARS CoV-2, due to a higher rate of production and emission aerosols. Playing wind instruments can produce condensation, saliva droplets and aerosol particles, which hover and spread in the convection flows of ambient air and which can be potentially infectious. The aim of this study is to investigate the dispersion of aerosol primary impulses that takes place during the playing of different wind instruments in relation to breathing and speaking. Nine professional musicians (3 trumpeters, 3 flautists and 3 clarinetists) from the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra performed the main theme of the 4th movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th symphony in different pitches and intensities. The volume of inhaled air was labeled with small aerosol particles produced using a commercial electronic cigarette. The expelled aerosol cloud was recorded by cameras from different perspectives. Then, the dimensions and the dynamics of the aerosol cloud were measured by segmenting the video sequences at each instant. Overall, the flutes produced the greatest dispersion at the end of the task, reaching maximum forward distances of 1.88 m. An expulsion of aerosol was observed in different directions: upwards and downwards at the level of the mouthpiece, at the end of the instrument, and along the flute at the plane of the keys. In comparison, the maximum impulse dispersions generated by trumpets and clarinets were lower in the frontal and lateral directions (1.2 m and 1.0 m forward, respectively). In addition, the expulsion on the sides was weaker.

PMID:35239657 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0262994

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