A new study from the University of Bristol’s Aerosol Research Centre suggests that the coronavirus can lose around 50% of its infection capabilities 10 seconds after becoming airborne depending on the humidity of an office environment.
The study has yet to be peer-reviewed.
“People have been focused on poorly ventilated spaces and thinking about airborne transmission over meters or across a room,” said Professor Jonathan Reid, director of the University of Bristol’s Aerosol Research Centre, the Guardian reported. “I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but I think still, the greatest risk of exposure is when you’re close to someone.”
The findings indicate that one of the best ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is by continuing physical distancing measures and wearing masks. However, ventilation may be less effective than previously perceived.
According to the study, viral particles lose moisture and dry out quickly after being released from the lungs. Additionally, the particles’ pH grows when carbon dioxide in the environment drops, which impacts how fast it dries out.
More specifically, the research showed that when humidity in an office was under 50%, the virus became 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.