A new study from the University of Bristol Aerosol Research Center suggests that the coronavirus can lose around 50% of its infection capacity 10 seconds after becoming airborne depending on the humidity of a office environment.
The study has not yet been peer reviewed.
“People have focused on poorly ventilated spaces and thought about airborne transmission over meters or across a room,” said Professor Jonathan Reid, director of the University of Bristol Aerosol Research Centre, reported the Guardian. “I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I still think the greatest risk of exposure is when you’re close to someone.”
The results indicate that one of the best ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is to continue physical distancing measures and wear masks. However, ventilation may be less effective than previously thought.
According to the study, virus particles lose moisture and dry out quickly after being released from the lungs. In addition, the pH of the particles increases when the carbon dioxide in the environment decreases, which impacts the rate at which it dries out.
Specifically, research has shown that when the humidity in an office is below 50%, the virus becomes half as infectious in just 10 seconds.
However, in an office with 90% humidity, 52% of particles were infectious after five minutes and dropped to around 10% after 20 minutes.