Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Sneezes and coughs project germs farther than previously thought
by Brooks Hays
Boston (UPI) Apr 9, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Each time you cough or sneeze, you may be sending a mini cold front across the room -- a germ-filled weather system.

According to a new study by researchers at MIT, the liquid droplets and vapors expelled during a cough or sneeze can float for up to eight feet.

Scientists had previously assumed mucus could only fly a couple of feet, and that larger droplets always traveled farthest given their greater mass. This assumption would be correct if droplets were expelled one by one in a vacuum. But they're not.

New analysis by MIT researchers shows the droplets and vapors of a sneeze or cough don't exist in isolation, but interact with each other and the air around them. They act more like a "multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud," as the researchers write in their paper.

"The cloud entrains ambient air into it and continues to grow and mix," explained co-author Lydia Bourouiba, an assistant professor in MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "But as the cloud grows, it slows down, and so is less able to suspend the droplets within it. You thus cannot model this as isolated droplets moving ballistically."

Using high-speed imaging, lab simulations and mathematical modeling, researchers were able to show how the smallest sneeze and cough droplets often down dissipate from the cloud until after they've floated eight feet -- or halfway across the room.

The end goal for these researchers is to better understand how pathogens spread, specifically among populations indoors.

As of now, the best remedy to slow the germ cloud is putting your elbow up to your face to block the expulsion.

The details of the sneeze study were published this week in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics.



Related Links
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

West Africa mobilises against Ebola epidemic
Bamako (AFP) April 04, 2014
West African countries mobilised Friday against an epidemic of haemorrhagic fevers including Ebola, which has claimed more than 80 lives in Guinea with more suspected cases in Mali, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Guinea is the worst affected country with 86 deaths, 45 of them confirmed as Ebola - a highly contagious disease that leads to external and internal bleeding and kills up to 90 percent ... read more

New risk factors for avalanche trigger revealed

Obama to visit US landslide site as death toll rises

MH370 searchers detect promising acoustic lead

Chileans scramble for supplies after new quake

A new twist for better steel

Overcoming structural uncertainty in computer models

World's most powerful VHF radar to be overhauled in Russia

World's oldest weather report could revise Bronze Age chronology

Longer catch-and-release time leaves largemouth bass nests more vulnerable to predators

Cyprus opens sewage plant in rare cross-communal effort

Not so dirty: Methane fuels life in pristine chalk rivers

The Atlantic Ocean dances with the Sun and volcanoes

Finnish research improves the reliability of ice friction assessment

Permafrost thawing could accelerate global warming

Good pay, no crime: life is good in Chilean Antarctica

River ice reveals new twist on Arctic melt

Taking action to deliver agriculture growth, jobs, food security in face of climate change

Field study shows why food quality will suffer with rising CO2

The tiniest greenhouse gas emitters

Tracking Sugar Movement in Plants

Disease threatens flood-hit Solomons

Japanese volcanic island swallows neighbor

Death toll rises to 23 in Solomons floods

Strong aftershock rocks Chile

Top Nigerian Islamic body accuses military over Muslim deaths

DR Congo rebel crackdown should not endanger hostages: charity

French forces move east in new phase of C. Africa operation

Nigerian military hits back at Boko Haram abuse claims

New method confirms humans and Neandertals interbred

Indigenous societies' 'first contact' typically brings collapse, but rebounds are possible

Technofossils are an unprecedented legacy left behind by humans

Scientists build 'designer' chromosome

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.