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UK News

Experiment to look at impact of singing in religious groups

by Cara Bentley

A study into the impact of communal singing on the spread of coronavirus among faith groups will take place this year. 

Singing is currently not allowed in church because of the increased risk of Covid-19 infecting more people as droplets go further. 

However, many academics are looking into the risk and some churches are considering how long they can go without sung praise in their services. Most churches are either watching pre-recorded songs or having one person lead music at the front. 

This experiment, conducted by UCL (University College London) will look into different factors which could limit the disease's ability to spread - such as wearing masks. 

50 people will be invited to the university after completing an online questionnaire about how Covid-19 has affected thier prayer life, mood, attendance at a place of worship and feeling of purpose in the world. 

The first part of the expermient involves visiting a laboratory at UCL's Engineering Faculty and being asked to speak words, then hum and sing, all without a mask. 

Participants will be filmed in front of their face using a high-speed camera whilst having a bright laser light shining at them to see how many droplets they produce, how fast the droplets move and possibly how big they are.

12 people from that group will then be invited to a second experiment which will be the same, except they will be asked to wear different types of masks and to speak, sing or hum for longer than the first time. To read more about the study click here.

A similar study took place earlier this year into volume, lead by Professor Jonathan Reid, a Professor of Physical Chemistry and also a Christian worship leader himself. 

Prof Reid told Premier: "What we found is that there is a little bit more aerosol generated when you sing, it's perhaps maybe a factor of two to three more than when you just speak at the same volume, but the biggest determinant is volume. So, if you speak or sing at the softest volume and then sing or speak at the highest volume, actually you will generate a factor of 20 to 30 more aerosol when you speak or sing at high volume and so really the volume is really crucial." 

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