The Universal Declaration of Material Rights Forums Suggestion Box UK Performers Take Part In Study Examining Aerosol Spread While Singing

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    A new study from The University of Bristol examines the spread of aerosols through singing.

    Twenty-five diverse professional performers recently took part in a study at the University of Bristol whose findings suggest singing produces no more respiratory particles than speaking, depending on volume.

    As part of the project, called Perform, scientists tested an array of singers in a range of ethnicities, ages, genders, genres and artistic disciplines, from musical theatre to opera and beyond, as well as musicians.

    The subjects were tasked with completing a range of tasks, including speaking and singing Happy Birthday in a currently operating theatre in which no other aerosols were present. Subjects were asked to perform at different pitches and volumes to gauge the level of aerosols and droplets expressed while doing so.

    Though the initial findings are not yet peer reviewed, they found that the key impact on the expression of aerosols and droplets is volume. There was minimal difference in the amount produced when singing at speaking volume. Singing or shouting loudly, however, produced 30 times the aerosol.

    The subjects were tested based on evidence that coronavirus is spread through floating aerosol particles and droplets which contaminate surfaces. The findings also suggest that ventilation and venue size could also be factors in how aerosol builds up in a space.

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who has been spearheading the campaign to get the UK arts sector back on track, said of the findings, “I know singing is an important passion and pastime for many people, who I’m sure will join me in welcoming the findings of this important study In uk Colleges. We have worked closely with medical experts throughout this crisis to develop our understanding of Covid-19, and we have now updated our guidance in light of these findings so people can get back to performing together safely.”

    Dr Rupert Beale of the Francis Crick Institute, said: “This important research suggests there is no specific excess risk of transmission due to singing. Loud speech and singing both carry excess risk however. This research supports the possibility of safe performance as long as there’s appropriate social distancing and ventilation.”

    University of Leicester associate professor of respiratory sciences, Dr Julian Tang, exercised caution when discussing the findings.

    “The risk is amplified when a group of singers are singing together, eg singing to an audience, whether in churches or concert halls or theatres. It is a nice study but not exactly representative of the real whole choir dynamic, which really needs further study to truly assess the risk of such large volume synchronised singing vocalisations/exhalations. The risks should not be overly underestimated or played down because of this – we don’t want choir members getting infected and potentially dying from Covid-19 whilst doing what they love.”

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