USA aerosol study recommends continued bell cover use

The findings of an extensive US study recommends a layered approach to Covid-19 practices and protocols — including continued use of face masks and bell covers.

  The report recommended a multi layered approach to reduce risk

Although the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions and protocols in the UK has meant that there is no requirement for the use of bell covers when playing brass instruments in rehearsals of performance, a new study published in the USA has made different recommendations.

Entitled, 'Measurements and Simulations of Aerosol Released while Singing and Playing Wind Instruments' it has been published online by ACS Environmental — the open access journal of the American Chemical Society.


The research sought to understand methods that can be used to reduce infection risk, including flow visualization, aerosol and CO2 measurements, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling to understand the different components that can lead to transmission risk from musical performance and risk mitigation.

This study came through a wide partnership across academic departments and institutions and collaboration with the National Federation of State High School Associations and the College Band Directors National Association.


Their conclusions stated that: "While to date there have been no large outbreaks reported from playing musical wind instruments, there have been recorded outbreaks from choirs."

Instruments that were used for the research included the clarinet, flute, saxophone, trumpet, oboe and French horn.

It went on to state that; "...performing with musical instruments produced a greater number of airborne particles compared to normal speaking levels and comparable levels to singing and theatre performances."

They added: "Using masks greatly reduced the aerosol concentration measured in front of the source. Plumes from talking, singing, and performing musical instruments were highly three dimensional and varied considerably in time and space.

The plumes decay rapidly and are highly unsteady, which leads to large variations in our plume-level measurements."

recommend a layered approach to decreasing exposure to potentially infectious aerosols, larger droplets, and surfacesStudy recommendation


In an appendix following the report they state that they, "recommend a layered approach to decreasing exposure to potentially infectious aerosols, larger droplets, and surfaces."

This includes "wearing face masks and putting masks over the bells of wind instruments; rehearsing and performing in well-ventilated spaces; limiting rehearsal time; practicing good hand hygiene and disposing of liquids from spit valves in an appropriate receptacle."

Further details

The report can be accessed at: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsenvironau.1c00007

The recommendations can read at: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/suppl/10.1021/acsenvironau.1c00007/suppl_file/vg1c00007_si_001.pdf

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