SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A new study on coronavirus [COVID-19] and air-borne particles shows how coughing or sneezing in an indoor space – like a grocery store – spreads droplet particles.
The study comes from Aalto University, self-described as a multidisciplinary science and art community in the fields of science, business, and art and design. In their study's 3D model, a person coughs in an aisle surrounded by shelves, like those found in grocery stores.
The respiratory droplets, or "aerosol cloud," balloons upwards and travels across the aisles. It can roughly go as high as 10 feet.
Droplets can also spread significantly. In their representation, an individual in the next aisle gets enveloped in the "aerosol cloud."
This is despite the fact that there is a shelf of products between the two people and what appears to be six feet of space.
The Aalto University video says the cloud takes several minutes to disperse, and has a concentration of air-borne particles staying close to the ground. The study suggests that, if someone walks through the aisle where another person coughed, they would be engulfed in respiratory droplets, even if they passed through just 5 minutes afterward.
Researchers share that one factor in this type of spread could be indoor ventilation and air flow, which does little to protect people against the spread of air-borne germs.
The study, completed by researchers from Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Technical and Innovation Centre and Helsinki University, is still ongoing.
These were just the first results.
"Someone infected by the coronavirus can cough and walk away but then leave behind extremely small aerosol particles carrying the coronavirus," said Aalto University Assistant Professor Ville Vuorinen in the published findings. "These particles could then end up in the respiratory tract of others in the vicinity."
The study was rapidly put together as part of an ongoing inquiry into how the coronavirus spreads.
Researchers confirm that these preliminary results indicate that coronavirus particles can remain in the air longer than was originally thought.
As such, it is important to stay at home and avoid busy public indoor spaces.
If it is necessary for you to go out, wear a mask to protect yourself and others. Cough into your elbow to limit the amount of droplets that you spread into the air.
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