Opening a window could cut airborne coronaviruses in half, study says

According to a study carried out with students at the University of Oregon, in the United States, opening a window can cut the amount of coronaviruses in the air in half. The survey was only published in pre-print, that is, it has not yet been reviewed by the scientific community.

Thirty-five students who tested positive for the coronavirus between January and May 2021 participated in the research, and were isolated in private rooms on the university campus for 10 days.

Scientists used a device to collect aerosols circulating in the air and swabbed samples from surfaces and from students’ noses and mouths several times a day. PCR tests were performed on the collected contents to determine the levels of presence of the coronavirus.

The results showed a clear link between the amount of virus present in the participants and in the environment—when it was lowest in the patient, it was also lowest where he was isolated.

Mechanical ventilation in each room was also calculated, and the participants needed to answer the frequency at which the windows remained open. The viral amount in bedrooms was, on average, twice as high in environments that were closed for more than half the time.

“Ventilation is very important, and I think we’re just starting to understand that,” says Leslie Dietz, one of the authors of the survey, to The New York Times.

Scientists caution that while the importance of open windows is clear, the study is limited. In addition to having analyzed only young people and some of the information having been reported by the participants, the ability of the virus present in the air to be viable to infect other people was not measured.

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