Study Finds: Singing Is As Safe as Speaking

Aug 31, 2020

Churches around the world, and even in America, are facing persecution from government officials for meeting. Meanwhile, protesters are given a free pass during COVID-19. This is due to the idea that singing spreads infectious aerosol particles. Based on that idea, churches have been and are still being singled out and attacked for singing during their in-person services.
But research shows this accusation is just not true.
A current study called PERFOM (ParticulatE Respiratory Matter to InForm Guidance for the Safe Distancing of PerfOrmeRs in a COVID-19 PandeMic) was led by the Imperial College London. It found that aerosol release is regulated by the volume of sound being projected. Thus, when talking and singing are compared at similar decibel levels, one is not more harmful than the other.
Therefore, singing itself does not pose a threat, but singing, shouting, or any sort of verbal expression that is loud could potentially release infectious particles.
What happens when a person sings? Another study was led by Christian Kähler, a fluid mechanics expert from Munich with decades of experience studying the behavior of aerosols. He found that even singing at the top of someone’s lungs only propels aerosol particles about 1.6 feet from the person’s mouth.
This is why no one sings out the candles on their birthday cake.
Furthermore, Kähler has studied the air motion resulting from different instruments. Trumpets and trombones disturb air motion at 1.6 feet, clarinets, oboes, and bassoons at over three feet, and flutes at even more. To solve this issue, Kähler recommends playing such instruments with gauze protection to limit escaping aerosols.
Eventually, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed their recommendation against singing. However, its page still does not equate speaking as equal to singing. Its site states, “Masks are strongly encouraged in settings where individuals might raise their voice (e.g., shouting, chanting, singing)” but there is no mention of masks while speaking, which produces an equal number of particles.
Unfortunately, many local governments both in America and around the world are still seeking to use singing to control local churches. The science is clear. Singing is not a reason to close or condemn churches. As long as members are socially distanced, research thus far shows singing does not impose any higher risk than speaking.

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Betsaida B. Laguipo, Angela. News Medical Life Sciences. Researchers compare COVID-19 transmission risk when singing, speaking, and breathing.
CDC. Considerations for events and gatherings. (Accessed: 2020, August 28).
Smout, Alistair. Reuters. Singing is no more of a COVID-19 risk than talking but volume matters, UK study finds. (2020, August 20).