Sneezes and coughs can remain airborne for a while over a long distance, as disclosed in a recent study. Led by MIT researchers, the study has demonstrated that whenever a person coughs or sneezes, a gas cloud is formed that holds the possible infection causing droplets aloft over a lot greater distances.
It was also brought out in the study that there is a tendency for the smaller droplets coming out via a cough or a sneeze to advance 5 to 200 times further which would have been unlikely if the same droplets had traveled as groups of disjointed particles.
The trend of the droplets to remain airborne, resuspended by the gas clouds, suggests that the ventilation systems might be more vulnerable to carry possible infectious particles than had been suspected, says John Bush, a professor of Applied Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics at MIT.
The research revealed that the droplets with diameters 100 micrometers can move five times further than estimated previously. Likewise, the droplets with diameter 10 micrometers can move 200 times further. Similarly, the droplets with diameter less than 50 micrometers can often stay airborne for long enough to reach the ceiling ventilation units.