A new study in Clinical Infectious Diseases, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by Oxford University Press, addresses just how much aerosols (aerosolized pathogens) have caused the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). In the early days of the pandemic, the focus was on surface cleaning but, today, much of that is considered “hygiene theater.” The threat of SARS-CoV-2 is in the air.
In the new study, “Viral Load of SARS-CoV-2 in Respiratory Aerosols Emitted by COVID-19 Patients while Breathing, Talking, and Singing,” the researchers note that “multiple SARS-CoV-2 superspreading events suggest that aerosols play an important role in driving the COVID-19 pandemic.” For their study, “to better understand how SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs,” they “sought to determine viral loads within coarse (>5μm) and fine (≤5μm) respiratory aerosols produced when breathing, talking, and singing.”
Even for those who have never doubted that transmission was primarily due to aerosolized pathogens, the results of this research are still eye-catching. Highlights from the study:
- “Overall, fine aerosols constituted 85% of the viral load detected in our study”
- “Fine aerosols produced by talking and singing contain more SARS-CoV-2 copies than coarse aerosols and may play a significant role in SARS-CoV-2 transmission”
Upper air UV reduces exposure to respiratory aerosols
The study’s results, the researchers say, “underscore the importance of reducing exposure to fine respiratory aerosols through non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs).” Included in their suggested NPIs is “upper-room ultraviolet air disinfection, and the use of fans to control airflow patterns within a space.”
Upper room ultraviolet air disinfection, also known as upper air ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI or UV), takes advantage of the natural phenomena of rising convection currents (i.e., heat rises). As aerosolized pathogens rise toward the ceiling (think of smoke rising) they can be destroyed with UV-C rays emitted by a unit mounted on the ceiling or upper wall. Built-in fans, like those in Aerapy’s upper room UV products, can help increase air circulation to move air through the path of the UV light. The importance of upper room UV is a subject we’ve tackled more than once. If you’re ready to learn more on the subject, the following is a roundup of some of our previous posts:
Want to know how our upper air UV products with built-in fans can help sanitize the air and improve your indoor air quality? Contact us for a free UV consultation.