Wind instruments are no worse than talking, breathing to spread COVID-19

congerdesign/Pixabay” alt=”For most instruments, the maximum spread of aerosols was less than 2 meters, according to a recent study. Photo of congerdesign/Pixabay“/>

For most instruments, the maximum aerosol spread was less than 2 meters, a recent study showed. Photo by congerdesign/Pixabay

Hit the band!

Aerosols produced by wind instruments like trombones and flutes are no more of a concern than those emitted during normal speech and breathing, a new study finds.

For the study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania worked with the Philadelphia Orchestra to better understand the amount of aerosol produced and dispersed by wind instruments.

After canceling public performances early in the pandemic, many bands began performing remotely or with limited crowds, the study notes.

“Ideally, musicians would sit next to each other to compose the best sound, but such an arrangement has become an issue during the COVID pandemic,” said study author Paulo Arratia, a professor of engineering. at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Arratia and his team first used visualization to characterize the flow, tracking fog particles in the air with a laser. They measured the concentration of aerosols from wind instruments with a particle counter.

By combining these two measurements, the researchers developed a simple equation to describe the scattering of aerosols, in which the speed of the aerosols decreases as the distance from the instrument increases.

The goal was to help other researchers determine the distance traveled by aerosols. The researchers were amazed at what the tests revealed.

“We were surprised that the amount of aerosol produced was in the same range as normal speech,” Arratia said. “I expected much higher flow rates and aerosol concentrations.”

The investigators also found that the speeds were much slower than when someone coughs or sneezes. For most instruments, the maximum spread was less than 2 meters, the results showed.

This means that musicians playing wind instruments must stay 6 feet apart.

The researchers now plan to study the amount of aerosols and fluxes produced when the whole orchestra is playing.

“I hope this manuscript will guide health officials in developing protocols for safe, live music events,” Arratia said.

The results were published Tuesday in Physics of Fluids.

More information

The provincial government of Manitoba, Canada has guidelines for musicians during COVID-19.

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