August 19, 2022 – Good news for Music Lovers and musicians too: Woodwinds don’t seem to show more COVID-19 particles than talk, according to a new study.
New research from the University of Pennsylvania with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, have found Wind instruments do not spread COVID-19 particles farther or faster than a human during normal speech.
“We are probably one of the first studies to combine flow measurements and aerosol concentration to study aerosol dispersal from wind instruments,” says Paulo Aratia, PhD, professor of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics at the university, who led the study.
Aratia and colleagues used a particle counter, humidifier, and a green laser to visualize and measure the amount and speed of aerosol release from wind instruments (think: brass and woodwinds) as orchestra members have been playing their instrument continuously for about two minutes. They measured flow from many instruments, including flutes, clarinets, trumpets, and tubas.
The challenge was finding how far apart the musicians could play their instruments without needing a grating or risking the spread of COVID-19 to gather members or the audience, says Aratia.
The researchers created a mist-like environment near the opening of the device using an ultrasonic humidifier. A green laser lit industrial fog. With so much moisture in the air and a light source flickering through it, Aratia and the other researchers were able to measure the abundance and speed of the volatile particles.
Most of the particles emitted were less than a micrometer thick, such as during normal breathing and speech.
Aratia says virus particles were not pushed out from the opening of wind instruments as violently as when a person coughs or sneezes. In fact, the flow was less than 0.1 meters per second, nearly 50 times slower than the speed of coughing or sneezingWhich ranges between 5 and 10 meters per second according to the study.
The particles from most devices traveled only about 6 feet before decomposing to background air intake levels. Only two instruments in the study, the flute and the trombone, sent the particles more than 6 feet away before the aerosol dropped to undetectable levels. Therefore, keeping woodwind and brass players 6 feet apart may reduce the spread and contamination of COVID-19 particles during live performances as well, says Aratia.
“During the pandemicthe orchestra distributed its players and used plexiglass to protect each other from aerosols, which was not ideal for sound quality,” he says. The musical pieces had to be adapted to exclude woodwinds and brass.D – Places postponed or canceled several concerts.
Smaller community orchestras faced unique challenges as they tried to follow COVID-19 protocols established by larger orchestras without the same financial resources.
Evan Shulman, MD says, Music boss Los Angeles Physicians Symphony Orchestra. “In fact, other than the baffling sound, it did nothing but redistribute the droplets, at least with respect to the information we saw.”
To ensure the safest environment for everyone, Schulman, MD, associate clinical professor of surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, chose pieces like Aaron Copeland. An uproar for the common manAnd the A drum and brass combination allowed players to space themselves apart. All members except for the Wind and Copper Division wore masks for every training and concert, and everyone had to be vaccinated.
“Some orchestras tested all of the wind instrument only, before each rehearsal,” Shulman says. “We didn’t really have the capabilities to do that, but as more testing becomes available, we were thinking about doing it when we start again in September.”
While Schulman may not have been able to measure how his devices spread particulates, the orchestra used a carbon dioxide monitor as a proxy for ventilation in the training space.
“The evidence we saw is that if you keep the Counter-Terrorism Bureau2 Concentrating to less than about 1,100 parts per million, I was safe,” he says. “We never found that we got close to alarming levels.”
Schulman says the new findings are reassuring.
“My concern is even that, in an orchestral environment, how many people want to be near people who are talking? Would they rather stay away? We still have to think about people being close.”
However, the COVID-19 protocols are worth doing to be able to play again.
“Just being able to play together was enough to allay people’s fears that it was worth doing,” Shulman says. “We just want to maintain and create a safe place for everyone.”