New Colorado State study could impact future of performing arts

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) – Colorado State University (CSU) announced a new study that could shed light on how the performing arts could make a comeback, safely. The goal of this research is to determine the size and number of human particles emitted during performances.

“We need this information because without it we don’t know how to protect people in the performing arts,” said John Volckens.

Volckens is a professor of mechanical engineering at CSU. He is part of the team running the study titled “Reducing Bioaerosol Emissions and Exposures in the Performing Arts: A Scientific Roadmap for a Safer Return from COVID19.”

The study will measure particles emitted by dozens of volunteer singers, dancers, actors and musicians. Volckens pointed out those particles could carry the coronavirus.

“So that we can measure precisely and accurately what sort of particles, what size come out of the human body during performances activities,” said Volckens.

The researchers will use a chamber designed specifically to measure human aerosol emissions.

“This will be used on every instrument that you can possibly imagine that uses wind, that uses breath,” said Dan Goble, the director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at CSU. He is also part of the study.

The team of researchers hope to use the data to come up with recommendations on how performers can return to the stage. Goble hopes that is the case but also understands the results could be grim.

“It could realize our worst fears. Maybe it’s not safe to sing yet,” said Goble.

Researchers hope to start testing in the coming weeks with the goal of gathering data by the end of the summer.

CSU is looking for additional funding to cover the cost of the study. For more information on the study or how to donate, visit the CSU webpage.

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