Indoors with Coronavirus — Are We Insane?

Bas Relief Style Abstract “Fruit Bat” in wood by David Richards

Crazy levels of virus are possible as we move indoors. Consider this. Inside heating and cooling air ducts in most homes and commercial buildings is a coating of dust and microorganisms. These usually don’t cause problems beyond sinus irritation. But now we have a coronavirus that is far more mobile and nasty than ordinary microorganisms. The problem is that the dry virus is exceptionally small. It and the water droplets we make while talking, breathing, sneezing, singing, coughing can easily form fine mist in addition to normal-sized droplets of moisture. The mist is called an aerosol because of its behavior (aero meaning carried on air and sol is short for solution).

It has much in common with cigarette smoke which is composed of fine particles and droplets. Like smoke, this aerosol can stay in rooms and travel throughout a building, especially with help from the blowers in heating systems. How often have you noticed a whiff of cannabis, cigarette, pipe, or cigar smoke although you couldn’t see anyone smoking. And, if the ventilation is not good, the smoke can become stale and really turn off visitors.

The same goes for coronavirus. But this stealthy guy is odorless and invisible. It can hang around for hours or days just like smoke. That’s the kicker. If it was in the air and smelled like stale cigar smoke, for instance, you would know it was there and do something to get rid of it. This damned thing is there but it’s beyond what our senses can detect.

We really do need to be careful for everyone’s sake. Masks help keep virus both with the one who has it and, to a degree, from getting into the room air and anyone’s else’s airway. Keeping some fresh air in the room(s), getting tested if you’ve been close around strangers or you feel sick with symptoms, and generally taking care of your health are all good advice. But I’m writing not to give advice. My purpose is to spread information so that everyone reading can make informed decisions, moment to moment, to protect their own health and that of others nearby.

This is not like a common cold as we’ve been told by so many political and business authorities. That is flat wrong. I’ve had many colds and didn’t experience anything near what the coronavirus does. So let’s each do what we can to get through this dangerous time. I’m looking forward to receiving a highly effective vaccine and returning to a life where we can all move freely with each other. Until then, I’ll continue writing on science applied to the pandemic. My next will be on details of mask types, how they really work, and how you can determine which are best using one or two rating systems.

The fruit bat shown at the top of this article is a carrier of something called henipavirus and is the subject of an upcoming article.

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