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Musical Chairs? Swapping Seats Could Reduce Orchestra Aerosols

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An orchestra performing in a concert hall.

Rearranging musicians could significantly reduce aerosol buildup on stage, a new study says.

Credit: Hiroyuki Ito/The New York Times

Researchers at the University of Utah and the University of Minnesota (UMN) used a computer model to analyze aerosol accumulations in a concert hall to determine whether rearranging musicians could significantly reduce aerosol buildup on stage.

The model mapped every air vent and the rate of airflow through the space's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, as well as the typical position of each member of the Utah Symphony.

To simulate the spread of aerosols during a concert, the team incorporated UMN research that quantified the concentration and size of aerosol particles emitted by various wind instruments.

By applying computational fluid dynamics simulations to model the flow of air and aerosols through the hall when all musicians were playing, the researchers determined that orchestras can reduce the risk of aerosol spread by placing the highest-risk instruments near open doors and air return vents.

From The New York Times
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