Letter: Confessions of an accordion cleaner BMJ Volume 335, p 630
The smoking ban has not only improved air quality in Irish pubs but also
appears to have improved the quality of the music, according to doctors
in a letter to this week¹s BMJ.
The pub session (or seisin in Gaelic), where musicians gather to play
traditional music together, is commonplace throughout bars in Ireland,
write John Garvey and colleagues. Instruments include the accordion,
concertina, melodeon and Uilleann (or Irish) bagpipes, all of which are
There is, they say, anecdotal evidence that the interiors of accordions
played regularly in smoke-filled environments are dirtied as a result of
the trapping of contaminant particles circulating in the air as it
filters through the instrument.
So they conducted a telephone survey of all workers involved in the
cleaning, repair, maintenance, and renovation of accordions in the
Republic of Ireland. They managed to contact six out of seven such
All participants pointed out that a strong smell of cigarette smoke
emanated from accordions played in a smoke-filled environment when they
are opened. Soot-like dirt is also deposited throughout the instrument
but particularly where air enters the bellows through the air inlet
valve and on the reeds.
One repairer commented that the deposition of dirt could be substantial
enough to affect the pitch of the reed. Two others claimed that if a
musician tended to play in a particular key, that this could be
determined from the distribution of dirt around particular reeds.
All who were questioned stated categorically that these signs had
definitely improved in accordions they had worked on since the
introduction of the smoking ban in Ireland.
The authors conclude: ³Our results provide further evidence that the
smoking ban has improved air quality in Irish bars and its
implementation in the face of initial opposition has been music to the
ears of the people of Ireland.²
Click here to view full letter (p4 of pdf):
- posted 12 years ago