Airflow inside cars could help decrease risk of COVID-19 transmission: Study
Early this year, the coronavirus came along and all hell broke loose. Over time, of course, the global population is gradually learning to live with it, as experts continue to study the many, many aspects of the pandemic and its effects on our lives. One such particularly intriguing scenario is transmission risk while travelling in cars. You see, a vast majority of people have taken to personal vehicles, especially four-wheelers, with the aim to avoid the risk of infection. However, since we often travel with other people in our cars, there’s always a degree of risk. And in order to figure this out further, researchers from the Brown University got down to work and studied airflow patterns inside a car to understand the risk as well as strategies to cut down the risk of COVID-19 transmission while sharing a ride with other people.
To cut a long story short, you should probably drive or ride with the windows open. According to the simulations executed under the purview of this study, opening windows generated airflow patterns that enabled a significant reduction in the concentration of airborne aerosol particles exchanged between a driver and a single passenger in the car’s cabin. Also, no — simply the car’s ventilation system is not nearly as effective a substitute for good old open windows.
Before you ask — one of the reasons why opening windows is better when it comes to aerosol transmission is because it increases the number of air changes per hour (ACH) inside the car. This, in turn, brings down the overall concentration of aerosols.
Asimanshu Das, co-lead author of the research from Brown university, said, “Driving around with the windows up and the air conditioning or heat on is definitely the worst scenario, according to our computer simulations. The best scenario we found was having all four windows open, but even having one or two open was far better than having them all closed.”
For this study, the computer models simulated a car, somewhat based on the Toyota Prius, with two people inside: One, the driver and the other, a passenger. The passenger was placed in the rear row, on the opposite side from the driver. In case you are wondering why this particular seating arrangement was chosen, the reasearchers said it maximised the physical distance between the two occupants in the car.