An Indian-German research team studied the effects of humidity in the transmission of infections and has discovered that dry air and air-conditioned rooms can help spread the coronavirus.
These findings are significant to those preparing to go back to work in offices and students heading back to classrooms after spending months in lockdown, the New York Post reports.
“The role of humidity seems to be extremely important to the airborne spread of COVID-19 in indoor environments,” the researchers reported on the website of Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS).
The scientist involved also reviewed ten international studies regarding the swine flu and other infectious diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and found that humidity affects a virus in three ways: droplet size, how droplets float, and how droplets land on surfaces.
In rooms that are more humid, virus droplets become heavier and fall faster in higher humidity, “providing fewer chances for other people to breathe in infectious viral droplets,” the team stated.
Apparently, the dry air makes the droplets shrink and then linger around, becoming what the group describes as an “optimal route” for transmission.
However, low humidity also dries out mucous membranes in the nose, which makes it easier for the coronavirus to get in.
The scientist suggests rooms should have a relative humidity of 40-60% and say people should open the windows to prevent the virus from spreading. They also urge governments to include their findings and recommendations in any public health guidelines.
On top of raising the relative humidity and wearing face masks, the scientist also urges businesses and schools not to pack their rooms with people.