Aerosol emission from taking part in wind devices and linked COVID-19 infection hazard for the duration of songs overall performance

To our expertise, this study is the very first to examine a lot more than two associates of the similar instrument, but a bigger and thus far more representative quantity of persons for two wind devices (oboe, flute). In addition, the study design and style working with a hermetically closed probe chamber and standardized playing affliction allowed, for the 1st time, measurement of whole aerosol emission rates. Other than in preceding scientific studies26,28 the distinctive musicians done the identical repertoire piece of tunes such as a variety of dynamics and articulation procedures. Our experiment resembles a actual functionality with regard to both the scores and the actively playing time (20 min).

Our outcomes display that regular wind instrument actively playing generates better aerosol emissions than common speaking or relaxed respiration. For the duration of practical performance, when the musicians play Mozart Concerto as usual, we notice total emission charges in the array beforehand reported for singing, exceeding 1000 particles for every 2nd33. This is in line with success by He et al. who found that actively playing wind devices in standard generates more aerosol than respiratory and speaking, whereby the emission charge is dependent on parameters, these kinds of as dynamics, articulation, and respiration strategies26. Some of the aerosol particle dimension distributions emitted by our probands through speaking present the laryngeal method (L-mode) all-around 2 µm found beforehand34 which is not noticed in the emissions from instrument playing (s. fig/Histograms/Comparison Laryngeal Mode Histogram.gif in our repository32). This is dependable with the reality that participating in wind instruments does not include vocal fold vibrations connected with voicing, consequently obviating the bodily mechanism underlying the generation of L-method particles.

The respiratory of the musician is the widespread source of both the loudness of a wind instrument and the aerosol emission. Precisely, exhalation decides sound era35,36,37 while inhalation determines aerosol generation11. Larger loudness is made by increased exhalation stream rate35,38,39,40. A flutist can maintain a be aware in forte for 8 s without the need of rebreathing, but for 40 s in piano41, so the exhalation flow amount increases by an approximate aspect 5 from piano to forte. The aerosol focus of exhaled air is dependent on the particle yield of bronchiole fluid film burst which is modulated by the inhalation movement charge11. Due to the fact aerosol exhalation rate is the products of exhalation air movement amount and particle focus of the exhaled air, the aerosol emission through playing a woodwind instrument relies upon on both equally the inhalation and the exhalation system.

A correlation in between loudness and aerosol emission is observed28 since the two quantities correlate, each and every, with exhalation movement fee as modulator. The median aerosol particle number concentrations documented in McCarthy et al.28 raise by a component 5 from piano to forte, which equals the anticipated maximize of exhalation movement price all through flute participating in. The increase of aerosol emission at raising loudness is, hence, mainly explainable by expanding exhalation move price. The particles emitted all through instrument playing have a similar dimension distribution as for respiratory while talking and singing would vary thereof by the added L-mode in the sizing distribution11,28,34.

Throughout musical general performance a musician autonomously adapts both inhalation and exhalation to the creative necessities42 so that variation of the inhalation method is everyday element of wind instrument participating in. It introduces an unbiased modulator of aerosol emission given that faster inhalation, which is usual for flute playing41, provides increased aerosol concentrations of the exhalate11. Therefore, aerosol emissions from a flute or oboe rely on the actively playing design and style in a a lot more elaborate way than straight correlation with exhalation movement price or audio tension. Our probands performed a entire Mozart Concerto relatively than solitary notes28 and playing all the diverse phrases with the recommended dynamics requires most of the instrumental and respiration approaches, whereas sustaining a one tone for 20 s is generally feasible without having re-breathing.

When comparing the emissions for the duration of instrument enjoying to individuals from speaking, we refer to the regular loudness involved with playing the Mozart Concerto or examining the Hesse novel aloud, respectively. The music efficiency was louder than the looking through, and the aerosol emission during participating in was bigger than throughout examining aloud. It is feasible, though, to increase the voice though talking to generate related degrees of aerosol emission as by playing wind devices28.

The big range of probands actively playing oboe and flute in our examine demonstrated the important person variability within just the two teams. Emission premiums exhibit uniform distribution within very similar ranges for the two instruments. As opposed to prior scientific studies22,23,26, no obvious allocation of emission costs to the instrument variety is achievable. We conclude that personal elements dominate the variability of aerosol emission alternatively than the form of instrument. Outliers from the uniform distribution that might be interpreted as tremendous-spreaders have not been noticed, other than in a past review that detected significant aerosol emitting probands through talking8.

In look for for personal variables influencing the aerosol emission we uncovered that emission charges do not correlate with human body peak or body weight32. Hence, we think that the respiration strategy and the respiratory charge are likely the rationale for person variability of aerosol emission, as outlined in a new analyze43.

The humidification of exhaled air can take location in the upper respiratory tract44,45 whereas aerosol development is thought to originate deeper in the respiratory tract11. Considering the fact that the humidified air is saturated with water even at substantial stream prices46, drinking water emission possible correlates with pulmonary air flow fee. Our benefits point out higher aerosol-particles-for each-h2o ratios for oboe enjoying than for speaking. Specified that wind instrument participating in requires higher pulmonary air flow fee than talking, our outcomes are reliable with an improved air exchange in the respiratory tract during wind instrument taking part in. The necessary pulmonary quantity seemingly is dependent on individual variables, these as vital ability or respiratory method, which explains the high variability of aerosol emission inside the two instrument groups. We discovered noteworthy correlations in between the h2o emission prices from wind instrument enjoying, speaking, and breathing indicating that the respiratory quantity wanted for the respective task may well improve equally for all the distinct men and women.

Regarding 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 were being hardly ever recorded, in agreement with McCarthy et al.28, hence being negligible for long-selection, airborne sickness transmission.

Like other researchers just before, we tried using to minimize 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 individuals created comparable aerosol emission fees as with out mask. A beforehand described reduction of 50–79%22,25 was not noticed at the measurement distances applied in our review. We assume that aerosol emanated through keyholes and embouchure. What’s more, 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.