Aerosol study: Necessary distances in orchestras less than expected
According to a study, the distances in orchestras can be shorter than currently recommended. The Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) announced this on Wednesday in Munich with reference to a study that it carried out together with the LMU Munich Clinic and the Erlangen University Clinic.
In contrast to other studies that measured the absolute aerosol concentration when making music, the approach of the study was to determine the acute spread and distribution of aerosols in space by playing certain wind instruments. The aerosols that were inhaled through the basic substance of e-cigarettes were observed and measured.
The evaluation showed that the musicians should keep a greater distance from their colleagues in front than to the side. The prerequisite is that the room is permanently ventilated so that the aerosols are regularly removed with fresh air.
For the trumpet and the clarinet, mean distances between the cloud and the mouth of 0.9 meters were measured. However, isolated musicians also reached 1.5 meters, so that, according to the scientists, safety distances of 2 meters to the front seem sensible. With the transverse flute, however, the measured radiation to the front via the mouthpiece even reached widths of up to 2 meters. Therefore, according to the recommendations of the study, distances of 2 meters are to be assessed as too small and 3 meters as appropriate.
The radiation to the side remained under one meter for all musicians. A safety distance of 1.5 meters, in contrast to the previously recommended 2 meters, appears to be sufficient, as Matthias Echternach, head of the department for phoniatrics and pediatric audiology at the LMU Klinikum Munich, explained.
Nikolaus Pont, manager of the BR Symphony Orchestra, expressed the hope that the findings of the study will quickly be incorporated into the specifications of decision-makers. “The reduction of the lateral distances between the wind instruments alone would enable us to perform a much larger repertoire again,” he said.
In the summer, the BR had already published study results on the spread of aerosol in choirs, which turned out to be similar: Choir members should therefore keep a greater distance from their colleagues in front than to the side.