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Can my bagpipes kill me like the newspaper says?

While you shouldn’t believe everything you read, should you believe the newspaper articles saying that a man died from the fungi and yeast that was living in his bagpipes making it back into his lung?

I can’t speak for that man.  I suspect he had the fungi in his lungs and blew them into his pipes rather than the other way around.  Consider:

  1. Pipers blow into their pipes, and do not breath in through the pipes (if they do they are doing it wrong).
  2. The bagpipe blowstick has a 1 way valve in it.  Why?  Because we need to breath in on a regular basis while playing.  If the air is coming back out of the blowstick the air pressure drops and the reeds stop.  Brand new beginners might suffer this for a week or two until they see their instructor next, but someone who has been playing a while certainly won’t.
  3. Most pipers are now playing hybrid or synthetic bags, so there is neither a whole bunch of leather nor the “natural” gunk in certain brands of seasoning for the fungi etc to really grow in well.  If you use a synthetic seasoning like I do (it is a petroleum jelly that you heat to a liquid) I don’t expect the fungi grows well in it.

So I would say the doctor’s reports of the cause of his death has the order of events wrong.  But if you are concerned about it, I can help you out with a new bag, new seasoning and any other bagpipe maintenance you require.