KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The act of speaking at a normal volume may transmit coronavirus, due to the production of tiny liquid droplets that hang in the air and enter people’s airways, a new study suggested.
STAT reported that the study by scientists at the National Institutes of Health found aerosols from infected people could pose an inhalation threat, even at considerable distances and in enclosed spaces, especially if there is poor ventilation.
Large particles, according to Harvard University biologist Matthew Meselson, like those expelled in a sneeze or cough settle down on surfaces because of gravity after remaining suspended in the air briefly.
But “breathing and talking also produce smaller and much more numerous particles” that are “too small to settle.” These aerosols, reported STAT, are carried by air currents as mild as those generated from walking around a room, drafts from open doors and windows, and vents creating air flows.
Large droplets that fall to surfaces can cause infection if they’re touched by people who then touch their faces. In such cases, the droplets and any virus carried go to the upper respiratory tract, where they may be removed via nasal secretions or swallowed before triggering an infection.
Aerosols, in contrast, are tiny in size — measuring only a few microns — that they penetrate deep into the lungs and infect cells.