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Scientists Recommend At Least 40 Per Cent Humidity In Public Buildings To Curb COVID-19 Spread

In their review of studies, published in the journal Aerosol and Air Quality Research, the scientists said in order to contain the pandemic, it is extremely important to implement standards for indoor air humidity in rooms with many people, such as hospitals, open-plan offices, or public transport

Scientists Recommend At Least 40 Per Cent Humidity In Public Buildings To Curb COVID-19 Spread
Highlights
  • The study was published in the journal Aerosol and Air Quality Research
  • 40% humidity level in public buildings would reduce effects of COVID-19
  • Findings important for upcoming winter season in the northern hemisphere

New Delhi: In addition to measures like social distancing and wearing masks, an Indian-German team of scientists recommend controlling indoor humidity conditions to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19. The researchers, including those from CSIR National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi, said in order to contain the pandemic, it is extremely important to implement standards for indoor air humidity in rooms with many people, such as hospitals, open-plan offices, or public transport.

In their review of studies, published in the journal Aerosol and Air Quality Research, the scientists specifically drew focus on relative humidity, which is a measure of water vapour in the air compared to the total saturation of vapour that can exist in the air at its current temperature.

According to the study, a relative humidity of 40 to 60 per cent could reduce the spread of viruses and their absorption through the nasal mucous membrane. The scientists said tiny drops of five micrometres in diameter, such as those produced when speaking, can float in the air for up to nine minutes.

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In aerosol research, it has long been known that air humidity plays a major role – The more humid the air is, the more water adheres to the particles and so they can grow faster. So, we were curious — what studies have already been conducted on this, explained Ajit Ahlawat, a co-author of the study from the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) in Germany.

According to the scientists, humidity affects the behaviour of microorganisms within the virus droplets, and the survival or inactivation of the virus on the surfaces. They said it also influences the role of dry indoor air in the airborne transmission of viruses.

If the relative humidity of indoor air is below 40 per cent, the particles emitted by infected people absorb less water, remain lighter, fly further through the room and are more likely to be inhaled by healthy people. In addition, dry air also makes the mucous membranes in our noses dry and more permeable to viruses, Dr Ahlawat explained.

The scientists believe the new findings are particularly important for the upcoming winter season in the northern hemisphere, when millions of people will be staying in heated rooms.

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Heating the fresh air also ensures that it dries. In cold and temperate climate zones, therefore, the indoor climate is usually very dry during the heating season. This could encourage the spread of coronaviruses, said study co-author Alfred Wiedensohler of TROPOS.

At a higher humidity, the scientists said droplets grow faster, fall to the ground earlier, and can be inhaled less by healthy people.

A humidity level of at least 40 per cent in public buildings and local transport would therefore not only reduce the effects of COVID-19, but also of other viral diseases such as seasonal flu. Authorities should include the humidity factor in future indoor guidelines, added study co-author Sumit Kumar Mishra of CSIR – National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi.

For countries in cool climates, the scientists recommend a minimum indoor humidity. They said countries in tropical and hot climates, on the other hand, should take care that indoor rooms are not extremely undercooled by air conditioning systems.

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When air is extremely cooled, it dries out the air and the particles in it, making people inside the room feel comfortable, but the dry particles will remain in the air for longer duration, the researchers warned.

They added that the measures already known, such as social distancing, having as few people per room as possible, and wearing masks should also be practised to lower the risk of infection.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

26,43,68,460Cases
22,50,84,762Active
3,40,45,666Recovered
52,38,032Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,43,68,460 and 52,38,032 have died; 22,50,84,762 are active cases and 3,40,45,666 have recovered as on December 3, 2021 at 1:36 pm.

India

3,46,15,757 9,216Cases
99,976 213Active
3,40,45,666 8,612Recovered
4,70,115 391Deaths
In India, there are 3,46,15,757 confirmed cases including 4,70,115 deaths. The number of active cases is 99,976 and 3,40,45,666 have recovered as on December 3, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,37,221 796

10,882 180

64,85,290 952

1,41,049 24

Kerala

51,51,919 4,700

45,030 252

50,66,034 4,128

40,855 320

Karnataka

29,96,833 363

6,772 169

29,51,845 191

38,216 3

Tamil Nadu

27,28,350 715

8,155 45

26,83,691 748

36,504 12

Andhra Pradesh

20,73,252 159

2,138 11

20,56,670 169

14,444 1

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,417 12

93 1

16,87,413 11

22,911

West Bengal

16,17,408 657

7,690 22

15,90,208 667

19,510 12

Delhi

14,41,190 217

307 21

14,15,785 196

25,098

Odisha

10,49,597 252

2,211 26

10,38,971 276

8,415 2

Chhattisgarh

10,06,870 37

328 12

9,92,949 25

13,593

Rajasthan

9,54,827 21

213 10

9,45,659 11

8,955

Gujarat

8,27,570 50

318 25

8,17,158 24

10,094 1

Madhya Pradesh

7,93,199 12

128 4

7,82,543 8

10,528

Haryana

7,71,760 27

178 9

7,61,528 18

10,054

Bihar

7,26,230 5

32 0

7,16,534 4

9,664 1

Telangana

6,76,376 189

3,680 50

6,68,701 137

3,995 2

Assam

6,17,163 124

2,535 77

6,08,517 198

6,111 3

Punjab

6,03,352 32

344 13

5,86,402 18

16,606 1

Jharkhand

3,49,271 15

95 1

3,44,035 13

5,141 1

Uttarakhand

3,44,325 22

182 4

3,36,735 18

7,408

Jammu And Kashmir

3,37,263 177

1,697 10

3,31,089 167

4,477

Himachal Pradesh

2,27,354 85

835 29

2,22,669 113

3,850 1

Goa

1,79,046 56

367 40

1,75,295 16

3,384

Mizoram

1,35,765 315

3,717 55

1,31,545 368

503 2

Puducherry

1,28,998 33

299 10

1,26,826 23

1,873

Manipur

1,25,269 33

663 4

1,22,627 28

1,979 1

Tripura

84,835 15

94 6

83,916 8

825 1

Meghalaya

84,534 24

296 2

82,764 25

1,474 1

Chandigarh

65,475 4

65 1

64,590 5

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,285 6

36 1

54,969 5

280

Sikkim

32,267 15

137 10

31,727 5

403

Nagaland

32,128 3

128 5

31,302 6

698 2

Ladakh

21,642 41

306 21

21,122 20

214

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,683

0 1

10,679 1

4

Lakshadweep

10,397 1

18 8

10,328 9

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,686 3

7 2

7,550 1

129

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