Singing loudly could increase the risk of coronavirus transmission, study says
We're still a long way from a return to live music as we remember it, but socially distant and drive-in shows have begun to happen, with mixed results. Now The Guardian reports that researchers are investigating another factor that may prove important to allowing concerts to safely go on again. Jonathan Reid, a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Bristol, co-authored a study where 25 professional singers were asked to sing, talk, breathe, and cough into funnels. While their findings haven't been peer-reviewed yet, they suggest that singing or speaking quietly produces less of the air droplets, called aerosols, that are thought to transmit coronavirus. The opposite was also true, according to their findings: talking or singing loudly produced aerosols with a larger mass.
"The volume of the activity, whether it is speaking or singing softly or speaking or singing loudly, that is really the main factor in governing the aerosol mass that is generated," Reid said.
The study's other co-author, Wexham Park Hospital ear nose and throat surgeon Declan Costello, pointed out that the size and ventilation of the space people are in, if indoors, as well as how long the talking or singing is going on, could also have an impact on the risk of coronavirus transmission. Another possible limitation of the study is that it didn't measure how much of the virus was present in any of the aerosols, or what the infection risks of the various amounts of aerosols produced was.
Still, is it possible that vocalist volume limitations could affect live music's return?