Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

It’s Not Just SARS-CoV-2: Most Respiratory Viruses Spread by Aerosols

Conventional wisdom on viral disease transmission needs updating, international science team concludes

SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind today’s global coronavirus pandemic, spreads primarily by inhalation of virus-laden aerosols at both short and long ranges—and a comprehensive new assessment of respiratory viruses finds that many others probably do as well. MERS-CoV, influenza, measles, and the rhinoviruses that cause the common cold can all also spread via aerosols that can build up in indoor air and linger for hours, an international interdisciplinary team of researchers reports in a review published in Science August 27.

CIRES Fellow and CU Boulder chemistry professor Jose-Luis Jimenez co-authored the new work, which suggests that paying attention to airflow and ventillation indoors and filtration (including masking) could help reduce the spread of many airborne viruses. "Monitoring CO2 with portable meters helps verify that ventilation is sufficient, and implementing portable HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) purifiers and upper room UV disinfection systems also help reduce the concentrations of virus-laden aerosols," Jimenez said. 

Learn more about the work, led by Chia Wang at National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan and Kim Prather at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, here

Please see a Spanish version of the full release here


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CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and CU Boulder.