Sneezes travel much farther than previously thought
A new study by MIT researchers shows that the droplets produced when we cough or sneeze are accompanied by a kind of gas cloud that enables the liquid to travel a much greater distances than previously thought.
To conduct their study, scientists used a combination of high-speed imaging of coughs and sneezes, laboratory simulations and mathematical modeling, which allowed them to analyze the fluid mechanics behind coughs and sneezes.
They found that droplets that are 100 micrometers in diameter were able to travel five times farther than past estimates, while droplets 10 micrometers in diameter traveled 200 times farther. In addition, the team determined that droplets less that 50 micrometers in size are often able to stay airborne long enough to enter ceiling ventilation units.
The next step will be to find out what happens to pathogens in the droplets carried by the gas cloud to develop a better understanding of how infections are transmitted.