Aerosol emission from enjoying wind devices and related COVID-19 infection hazard during new music effectiveness

To our expertise, this analyze is the initial to study much more than two associates of the exact instrument, but a greater and thus extra agent range of men and women for two wind instruments (oboe, flute). Moreover, the study structure employing a hermetically shut probe chamber and standardized enjoying condition authorized, for the to start with time, measurement of total aerosol emission fees. Other than in former scientific tests26,28 the various musicians carried out the same repertoire piece of music which includes a wide variety of dynamics and articulation strategies. Our experiment resembles a actual general performance with respect to both equally the scores and the enjoying time (20 min).

Our outcomes show that regular wind instrument enjoying generates higher aerosol emissions than common speaking or relaxed respiratory. During practical functionality, when the musicians perform Mozart Concerto as standard, we notice whole emission costs in the variety earlier reported for singing, exceeding 1000 particles for every next33. This is in line with benefits by He et al. who uncovered that enjoying wind devices in standard generates additional aerosol than breathing and talking, whereby the emission fee is dependent on parameters, this sort of as dynamics, articulation, and breathing approaches26. Some of the aerosol particle size distributions emitted by our probands through speaking present the laryngeal method (L-mode) all-around 2 µm identified formerly34 which is not observed in the emissions from instrument actively playing (s. fig/Histograms/Comparison Laryngeal Method Histogram.gif in our repository32). This is constant with the actuality that enjoying wind devices does not require vocal fold vibrations linked with voicing, therefore obviating the physical mechanism fundamental the technology of L-mode particles.

The respiration of the musician is the popular source of each the loudness of a wind instrument and the aerosol emission. Especially, exhalation establishes seem era35,36,37 whilst inhalation determines aerosol generation11. Higher loudness is made by increased exhalation move charge35,38,39,40. A flutist can maintain a take note in forte for 8 s devoid of rebreathing, but for 40 s in piano41, so the exhalation stream amount raises by an approximate variable five from piano to forte. The aerosol focus of exhaled air relies upon on the particle yield of bronchiole fluid film burst which is modulated by the inhalation stream level11. Since aerosol exhalation rate is the item of exhalation air stream fee and particle focus of the exhaled air, the aerosol emission all through participating in a woodwind instrument relies upon on both equally the inhalation and the exhalation procedure.

A correlation among loudness and aerosol emission is observed28 because the two portions correlate, just about every, with exhalation circulation charge as modulator. The median aerosol particle number concentrations documented in McCarthy et al.28 boost by a factor five from piano to forte, which equals the expected raise of exhalation flow rate in the course of flute playing. The improve of aerosol emission at expanding loudness is, hence, mostly explainable by growing exhalation movement price. The particles emitted in the course of instrument actively playing have a identical dimension distribution as for breathing while speaking and singing would vary thereof by the more L-mode in the sizing distribution11,28,34.

Throughout musical efficiency a musician autonomously adapts equally inhalation and exhalation to the creative requirements42 so that variation of the inhalation procedure is ordinary aspect of wind instrument taking part in. It introduces an unbiased modulator of aerosol emission considering that a lot quicker inhalation, which is typical for flute taking part in41, produces larger aerosol concentrations of the exhalate11. As a result, aerosol emissions from a flute or oboe rely on the participating in style in a a lot more complex way than straight correlation with exhalation stream amount or sound stress. Our probands played a complete Mozart Concerto instead than solitary notes28 and playing all the distinctive phrases with the recommended dynamics calls for most of the instrumental and respiration methods, whilst sustaining a solitary tone for 20 s is usually feasible devoid of re-respiration.

When evaluating the emissions through instrument participating in to those from speaking, we refer to the usual loudness linked with enjoying the Mozart Concerto or reading through the Hesse novel aloud, respectively. The audio general performance was louder than the examining, and the aerosol emission for the duration of enjoying was increased than for the duration of reading through aloud. It is doable, nevertheless, to elevate the voice even though talking to produce very similar concentrations of aerosol emission as by participating in wind instruments28.

The big selection of probands participating in oboe and flute in our review demonstrated the big unique variability inside the two teams. Emission premiums demonstrate uniform distribution within just very similar ranges for the two instruments. As opposed to preceding experiments22,23,26, no apparent allocation of emission fees to the instrument style is feasible. We conclude that individual elements dominate the variability of aerosol emission fairly than the style of instrument. Outliers from the uniform distribution that could possibly be interpreted as super-spreaders have not been observed, other than in a prior review that detected superior aerosol emitting probands all through talking8.

In lookup for person aspects influencing the aerosol emission we discovered that emission premiums do not correlate with system height or excess weight32. Consequently, we suppose that the respiration strategy and the respiratory fee are almost certainly the purpose for personal variability of aerosol emission, as outlined in a modern research43.

The humidification of exhaled air usually takes place in the upper respiratory tract44,45 whereas aerosol development is assumed to originate deeper in the respiratory tract11. Since the humidified air is saturated with h2o even at substantial stream rates46, water emission probably correlates with pulmonary air flow price. Our benefits point out greater aerosol-particles-per-h2o ratios for oboe participating in than for speaking. Provided that wind instrument participating in needs greater pulmonary ventilation price than talking, our benefits are steady with an greater air trade in the respiratory tract all through wind instrument taking part in. The demanded pulmonary volume seemingly is dependent on person variables, such as important ability or respiratory system, which describes the superior variability of aerosol emission in the two instrument groups. We discovered noteworthy correlations concerning the drinking water emission premiums from wind instrument participating in, talking, and breathing indicating that the respiratory quantity desired for the respective job may possibly maximize equally for all the distinct people today.

About the particle size distribution, most of the particles are < 1 µm in diameter, as found previously for breathing and speaking probands33. The SARS-CoV-2 virus has a diameter of 0.13 µm47,48. An investigation of the load distribution of SARS-CoV-2 virions in airborne aerosol over different aerosol particle size bins revealed that aerosol particles smaller than 1 µm carried 67% of the total number of genome equivalents per cm3 in an air sample49. This imposes great risk for long-range COVID-19 transmission since particles < 2 µm reach alveolar parenchyma. Consistently, particles with equilibrium diameters ≤ 1 µm emitted during breathing, speaking, and singing have been causing indoor airborne long-range COVID-19 transmission with attack rates as high as 89% (51 secondary infections among 57 susceptible exposed)5. Even particles emitted by infectious individuals during tidal breathing contain aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies, 54% of which are contained in fine particles (diameters ≤ 5 μm) labelled here as “aerosol”50. Therefore, the “aerosol” particles emitted during instrument playing ought to be considered efficient virus carriers. The emission rates measured here are the most important input parameter of disease transmission risk calculations for the assessment of indoor situations involving the presence of potentially infectious room occupants. Particles with diameters > 6.6 µm have been not often recorded, in agreement with McCarthy et al.28, as a result becoming negligible for lengthy-assortment, airborne ailment transmission.

Like other researchers in advance of, we experimented with to lessen the aerosol emission by masking measures. We masked the bell with a surgical mask on the oboe, clarinet, and trumpet. Besides for just one oboist, all members developed similar aerosol emission rates as with no mask. A beforehand explained reduction of 50–79%22,25 was not noticed at the measurement distances applied in our review. We suppose that aerosol emanated through keyholes and embouchure. Additionally, the most frequent particle class with diameters < 0.8 µm is not filtered efficiently by a surgical mask. Since 4 out of 11 oboists reported a flawed intonation, especially for the notes E5 and F5, while playing with mask we refrain from recommending surgical masks as emission filters for wind instruments.

Risk assessment of typical woodwind playing situations

Short-range exposure is difficult to model, but easy to mitigate (by social distancing following recommendations, e.g., in Gantner et al. and Hedworth et al.21,51). The opposite applies for long-range exposure, in practice. The obvious countermeasures against aerosol transmission are ample fresh air and the wearing of FFP2 masks. However, the efficiency depends strongly on the specific setting. The sole simple rule available is the recommendation to do outdoor whatever can be done outdoor. For indoor occupation, COVID-19 transmission risk can be calculated as described in Reichert et al.5 and implemented online for free use: https://hri-pira.github.io19.

We apply the framework outlined in Supplement S4 to assess the criticality of a few, typical situations of playing woodwinds. It is assumed that appropriate social distancing excludes short-range exposure so that the infection risk entirely results from long-range exposure. As mentioned before, the hazard in a particular scenario depends on both the individual aerosol emission rate q and the infectiousness of the instrument player52. In a real situation the disease transmission probability may therefore be a factor 10 less than stated below or even negligible since we assume the worst case of viral load.

For our calculations we assume the maximal infectiousness ((Z_50) = 833 particles, for the Delta variant) and an aerosol emission rate of q = 2500 particles per second while playing, to examine whether the setting is safe or not. This question remains important even when an antigen test has been carried out before playing since asymptomatic spreaders may pass at significant rates reported with a sensitivity of 58% to 95%53. A safe setting provides the necessary, second line of defense. Vaccination is neglected in the following, thus assuming susceptibility for infection.

Lesson at the music school

The teacher and an infectious student have a 60 min lesson in a 200 m3 classroom. The student listens 50%, plays 40%, and talks 10% of the time (average aerosol emission rate q = 4∙106 /h). Neither wears a mask and the windows remain closed. The resulting long-range infection probability for the susceptible teacher is p = 96%. To reduce p to 10% by ventilation only, unrealistic 80 air changes per hour (ACH) sustained were necessary. If, instead, the teacher wears a tight FFP2 mask with a filter efficiency of 95% ((vartheta =0.05))54,55 then p = 15%. They may open the door and windows widely for 10 min after half an hour to clear the air from aerosols. Then, p = 79% without wearing a mask, or p = 7% wearing a mask. To conclude, acceptable safety levels can be reached even at worst-case conditions by

  1. (i)

    limiting the duration to one hour,

  2. (ii)

    wearing FFP2 mask whenever suitable, and

  3. (iii)

    obligatory, thorough airing around half time.

Infection probability with mask is expected around 14% when the space volume of the room is half as large (100 m3).


An infectious soloist plays a one-hour program (net playing time) accompanied by two musicians in a 2000 m3 ballroom. The audience leaves the room after 90 min, including the encores and applause. Automatic ventilation exhausts air through the ceiling at 2 ACH (4000 m3/h) with fresh air streaming inward near the floor. The CO2 level stays below 1000 ppm (good air quality) for audiences up to 100 persons. The average aerosol emission rate is q = 6∙106/h. The long-range infection risk for susceptible persons is p = 3% if they wear FFP2 masks and p = 45% otherwise. Given that social distancing prevents accommodation of more than 50 spectators in the ballroom, one secondary infection case is expected when FFP2 masks are worn throughout. The reproductive number in this setting is R ≈ 1.

Symphonic performance

A woodwind player in an orchestra is infectious. They play symphonic literature, i.e., the duty cycle of woodwinds is average. We assume 30 min net playing time evenly distributed over 90 min concert duration, resulting in an average aerosol emission rate q = 3∙106/h. The concert hall has a space volume of 20,000 m3. Automatic ventilation exhausts air above stage and auditorium at 2.5 ACH. The long-range infection risk for susceptible persons is p = 0.14% when they wear FFP2 masks, and p = 3% otherwise, owing to the large air space and fresh air supply.

The basic assumption of full mixing, or perfect aerosol dilution, is questionable in the latter example. Concert stages may have air exhaustion ducts which remove part of the air on stage from the hall before it mixes into the air surrounding the audience. In case of the opposite flow direction, fresh air streaming down from the ceiling, problems may arise, such as local stagnation or recirculation regions with elevated aerosol concentrations51. Generally, large premises require consideration of actual flows and should not be assessed using the well-mixed room air assumption. Our example cannot be generalized to other concert halls, based only on their size and total fresh air supply.