May 14, 2020

"Ordinary speech can emit small respiratory droplets that linger in the air for at least eight minutes and potentially much longer..."

"... according to a study published Wednesday that could help explain why infections of the coronavirus so often cluster in nursing homes, households, conferences, cruise ships and other confined spaces with limited air circulation. The report, from researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the University of Pennsylvania, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal. It is based on an experiment that used laser light to study the number of small respiratory droplets emitted through human speech. The answer: a lot."

From "Experiment shows human speech generates droplets that linger in the air for more than 8 minutes" by Joel Achenbach (in WaPo).

How did we ever sit together in restaurants and talk and eat? Saliva was always constantly flying about and getting up our nose and into our mouth and onto our food! It was inexpressibly gross. And now that we know, how can we ever eat anywhere near another person... at least another person whom we wouldn't feel okay about French kissing? How can we talk with anyone other than over the internet? Human life as we have known it is over... but we can't say that. What would be the point? Life is too unhealthful to be lived?
Louder speech produces more droplets, [the researchers] note. The paper estimates that one minute of “loud speaking” generates “at least 1,000 virion-containing droplet nuclei that remain airborne” for more than eight minutes.
Okay, so maybe just tweak human life. Make improvements. Speak, but speak quietly.



AND:



PLUS: Here's a game for your coronavirus lockdown: "Say It Don't Spray It - The Word Game That Gets You Wet! The Ultimate Party Game That Brings Uncontrollable Laughter!"
Say It Don't Spray It is a hilarious variation on the category game that most people have played at one time or another! It is amazing how just a small amount of water creates a tremendous amount of anticipation, funny faces and general hilarity.

84 comments:

Danno said...

As the old wives' tale said, "Sunshine is the best disinfectant."

Maybe that isn't so far from the truth.

rhhardin said...

You're also breathing in air that they're breathing out. It's a conspiracy.

Karen of Texas said...

Breathing in those virion (and bacteria) is part of what helps build a healthy immune system. Humans were designed to exchange virion. We all carry around thousands of viruses.

Also, those virion are teeny, tiny. Nanometers actually. Even the good masks are designed for microns. And those cloth ones? Anyway, consider that a mask means you are rebreathing all the virion - and bacteria - that you would normally be expelling out of your lungs and away from your body. Recirculating all that ick back into your system. It's like breathing the contaminated air in an airplane. Ick. How have we survived this long?!?

Balfegor said...

We should carry folding fans and conceal our mouths behind them when opening our mouths to eat or speak or laugh . . .

stevew said...

Germophobes instinctively know this. Trump is reported to be a germophobe.

Laslo Spatula said...

Just a step or two shy of bukkake, really.

I am Laslo.

Karen of Texas said...

Hopefully germaphobes aren't paying attention to things like this. They will be some of the collateral damage in this warfare even if they never contract this particular virus. Information like this has to paralyze them. Agoraphobia to follow.

tim maguire said...

We're constantly ingesting things that would make us puke if we knew. The answer is not to wall ourselves off further, the answer is to dial back the fastidiousness that makes us grossed out by (nearly) harmless commonplace things.

narciso said...

Maybe mass confinement isnt helpful after all.

tim maguire said...

rhhardin said...You're also breathing in air that they're breathing out. It's a conspiracy.

I think about that every time my daughter walks up to me, farts, and then runs away laughing.

Temujin said...

Makes you wonder how we made it past the Australopithecus afarensis, Lucy.

Eleanor said...

I'm so glad I grew up playing in cow shit. It puts so much of life into perspective.

TJM said...

Inga,

Stay home forever

jeremyabrams said...

Spitting on each other is essential to our immune systems, and we dare not stop. We're weakening as we speak by being stuck at home with no one to spit on but ourselves.

n.n said...

Greenhouse Effect.

exhelodrvr1 said...

THis isn't new information

Sally327 said...

Are we all going to turn into Howard Hughes, obsessed with germs and terrified to go out or be around other people? Or we'll be bubble people, walking around wrapped up in some kind of protective saran wrap type material to keep all the germs and bacteria off us (an inventive, entrepreneurial type could make a lot of money off something like this). Which means humanity will be extinct really fast since we'll have no immunity to anything, which will make certain people happy if they would only be alive to see it.

Ann Althouse said...

What do you get when you kiss a guy?
You get enough germs to catch pneumonia
After you do, he'll never phone ya
I'll never fall in love again...

Roger Sweeny said...

We have an immune system so ordinary conversation, sharing meals, etc. is not very unhealthy. If it was, the species would have died out long ago. Or people would have survived but with most people being sick most of the time.

As to whether it's gross to constantly breath in other's droplets, you've done it for sixty years. It didn't bother you then. Maybe it shouldn't bother you now.

Many of my students found it gross that billions of bacteria, mites, etc. were on their skin every second. But that's nature.

PB said...

We need the regular exchange of microbes and pathogens to allow us to build robust immune systems. Social distancing disrupts this and the constant hand washing and disinfecting strips away things that help protect us.

The great unintended consequence.

Big Mike said...

No wonder Democrats want to shout in our faces all the time.

John Borell said...

I’m not a germaphobe. I’m going to go on living my life.

We’re not only humans. Those of us who live here in America are also fucking Americans.

I, for one, will not cower in my home afraid of daily life.

Everyday I tire more and more of listening to people who want a guarantee of safety, security, and no danger.

That’s. Not. Life.

Sebastian said...

"How did we ever sit together in restaurants and talk and eat?"

Well, it went like this. We entered the restaurant, or the party house, and sat down, and started talking and eating, enjoying ourselves, and when we were done, we'd get up and leave.

"It was inexpressibly gross."

OMG. Wait till I tell you about the bacteria everywhere.

ga6 said...

Wait 'til they put photos of mites in eye brows on CNN. Some person will put their wife's head in the oven and blame Trump and R Paul.

Fernandistein said...

Like that scene in Casablanca where he says "Here's spitting on you, kid."

Bob Boyd said...

No more talking. We can just text one another from now on. We're all Bubble Boy now.

exhelodrvr1 said...

The moderation is worse than mini-droplets in the air.

AustinRoth said...

More efforts to try and set the table for the permanent suspension of our Constitutional Rights by the Left.

Wince said...

Speaking of eating together and spreading germs...

Do you remember the Bird Family from SNL?

pacwest said...

After 8 minutes all of those gross little droplets fall out of the air -- onto your tennis shoes!!

Wince said...

Kissing Family: Brecken Brings His Boyfriend Home - SNL

iowan2 said...

We need germs and microbes to thrive. We are designed to co-exist. The notion that something is "icky" is a cultural invention. I know I've mentioned here, that I have personally inhaled more hog and cattle shit than a wide swath of people in America have seen. Been doing it since I was around 5 years old. Dad would carry out a 5 gallon bucket full of protein and put it into the feed bunks, and my job was the spread it evenly overtop the silage the feed wagon augured into 5 feed bunks. Cattle pushing for a place at the bunks, is the sloppy mess of the feed lot, flung around a fair amount of pooo. I was much healthier than my intown class mates, that operated under much "cleaner" standard.

Humans can handle all manner of stuff.

rehajm said...

That's the news...and now for the weather...

Leland said...

Congress should take back the money it gave to the Kennedy Center, because they produce stage productions in which people talk loudly in front of audiences. No need for virus breeding grounds like that anymore.

Michael said...

God, I love this stuff. Droplet science. Virus science. Droplets remain in the air from seconds to days and travel from a foot or two to three grocery store aisles away. The virus lives on cardboard for hours, days, a week or more. Factoids invented for a scrapbook clipping for the grandkids. Getting over being scared? Read this. Getting comfortable with the numbers? Stopped washing your shoes? Well read this new thing about the six kids in Mongolia. Read this new droplet breakthrough. Shelter the fuck in place.

Lurker21 said...

Justin Trudeau warned his people against "speaking moistly," and it became a meme. At first I thought this was either an invention or a mispronunciation, but no, he said it. Somebody autotuned it and made it a video.

stevew said...

If you can smell it it is in your nose.

Michael K said...

No, the reason for a majority of the deaths is Democrat governors forcing nursing homes to admit patients with the WuHan virus to infect other residents.

Birkel said...

Because we're not going to change our lives because of things we knew to be true previously, if given just a little thought?

Piss and shit are all over your bathroom.
Flushing a toilet is gross.
There is probably fecal matter on your toothbrush.

Are you digging a fresh latrine and giving up indoor plumbing?

madAsHell said...

g = 9.81 m/s^2

Math, and physics r hard.

CStanley said...

Wait 'til they put photos of mites in eye brows on CNN

My Dad told my sister and me about eyebrow mites when I was about 8. Our county library offered a “Library Line” (like a primitive Siri haha) for kids to call for homework help, so we decided to call and ask if this was true. The librarian was flummoxed and told us that she thought our dad was pulling our leg, but Dad later produced a reference to prove to us that he wasn’t.

I still remember this story with fondness when I diagnose the similar mite condition in dogs and see the little critters under the microscope.

MadisonMan said...

"can emit" -- left out from that sentence "in laboratory conditions"

The solution that is obvious: Restrict Everyone's Freedom. You Marines on Iwo Jima: Maybe it would've been better if you'd try to stay safe!

stlcdr said...

A new study? You mean, this wasn't studied before? I guess the experts aren't really experts, and this is just a 'new and improved leech to drain toxins out of your body'.

iowan2 said...

8:02
1 upvote

Howard said...

This is for the few you who still possess common sense and what is called appropriate fear.

https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

Unknown said...

N95 masks are, in the best of circumstances, only 99.9 percent effective. This means that 0.1 percent of viruses can pass through them. That's millions of viruses. Good times!

In hospital settings, medical staff know how to fit their N95 masks properly to their faces. Otherwise they are much less ineffective and do not provide a good seal.

If you touch your mask, N95 or surgical (the rectangular variety) and keep using it, you have hopelessly contaminated it.

If you are wearing a homemade mask made of cotton, it is not waterproof, i.e. it can allow airborne particles from others to pass through. How helpful is that?

There is no science behind the six-foot rule. It is a guesstimate.

Eyes are an excellent source of admission of viruses. They stay open all the time. Your mouth does not. Wear goggles from Home Depot

Unknown said...

N95 masks are, in the best of circumstances, only 99.9 percent effective. This means that 0.1 percent of viruses can pass through them. That's millions of viruses. Good times!

In hospital settings, medical staff know how to fit their N95 masks properly to their faces. Otherwise they are much less ineffective and do not provide a good seal.

If you touch your mask, N95 or surgical (the rectangular variety) and keep using it, you have hopelessly contaminated it.

If you are wearing a homemade mask made of cotton, it is not waterproof, i.e. it can allow airborne particles from others to pass through. How helpful is that?

There is no science behind the six-foot rule. It is a guesstimate.

Eyes are an excellent site for admission of viruses. They stay open all the time. Your mouth does not. Wear goggles from Home Depot.

Frank said...

Enough with the fear porn already. It is truly tiresome.

Jessica said...

This is the kind of thing that just makes people throw up their hands and say, "screw it, let's just live life." Presenting absurd scenarios -- don't talk to people in person! never hug! no handshakes! never again eat with a friend! never date! shun your extended family! -- it's absurd. It's just silly to think that ten thousand years of evolved human behavior will be "ordered" to stop. Won't happen, can't happen - at least in the long term.

R. Duke said...

I couldn't see the article (paywall) But they always seem to report this stuff to scare us. The issue is whether the suspended particles contain a viral load sufficient to infect a new host. Does it discuss that? Otherwise it's harmless and maybe beneficial if you are being exposed to partial vireon or low levels, what do you think vaccines are.

Vonnegan said...

I read that Erin Bromage article and found it interesting. But what I now want to know is this: did this sort of stuff happen with everyone they traced? Did they find that everyone who had the virus spread it to others? It seems likely, I guess. But it would be helpful to know if there are some people the tracers talked to where the result was something like "Joe went to his son's basketball game when he had the virus but didn't know it. Nothing happened." If Joe exists, how many times did Joe's story happen, as opposed to Bob's? It would be really useful to know if it was 50% Joe and 50% Bob, or 90% one of them or the other. The lack of that information in the article - it's really just a cherry-picked group of stories, when you think about it - makes it of limited utility.

Any of the medical/scientific folks here know the answer?

Howard said...

Vonnegan is your handle a homage to Kilgore trout and trout fishing in America?

Good observation. Examples seem to be cherry-picked. However the recent outbreak from the gay bar in South Korea seems to confirm that we're dealing with cherry pie.

It does seem to make a lot of sense based on a conceptual model of aerosol transport recirculation viral load proximity residence time exposure time etc etc.

rhhardin said...

There are no droplets from morse code.

bagoh20 said...

This does not bother me at all. I've always known it. I'm reminded of it constantly, I can't do anything about it, and neither can you, so get over it. You cannot function thinking about this any more than you can walk effectively while staring at your feet. Your life will be miserable if you don't just ignore it. Do you like being miserable?

Andrew said...

It was those small respiratory droplets fault that turned nursing homes in to death camps, not Governors.

Big Mike said...

Unknown said...
N95 masks are, in the best of circumstances, only 99.9 percent effective. This means that 0.1 percent of viruses can pass through them.


From the FDA’s website: “The 'N95' designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles.“

rhhardin said...

A bunch of really old guys have a morse code pseudo-contest every Wednesday from 9-10am and 3-4pm Eastern time (listen from about e.g. 7027-7043 kHz) which is an enormous clamor on the band, that starts suddenly and ends suddenly, dead-quiet before and after. It just shows old guys are still alive in huge numbers. Yet they don't get covid-19 from it.

rhhardin said...

THe point of general masks is just to reduce the odds of picking up or spreading something. It gets the general Rzero down to where the disease dies out.

If you're in constant contact with actual infected people all the time, you want something really good. You're not trying to reduce the reinfection rate but to completely avoid getting infected. Different needs.

Bob said...

"How did we ever sit together in restaurants and talk and eat?"

Easy. Bad things rarely came of it. We lived through the periodic pandemics and moved on.

COVID-19 has captured the worst fears of much of the world. It is like a flu epidemic, different and worse in some ways but not orders of magnitude worse. It is not the extinction-threatening Black Death of the Middle Ages. But, here we are, acting as though it's the Worst Thing Ever.

Crazy.

elkh1 said...

Droplets linger in confined space with limited air circulation, so Newsome closes the beaches.

mandrewa said...

Andrew said, "It was those small respiratory droplets fault that turned nursing homes in to death camps, not Governors."

I really don't understand that statement. We suspected that airborne transmission was going on back then when the infected people were being sent to nursing homes. In fact we suspected that something like that was going on weeks before then. This isn't a case of hindsight.

True, there were some "experts" back then claiming that airborne transmission was not occurring, but then you could always find plenty of other "experts" asserting either that it might be happening or that it is was happening.

I have never yet seen an intelligible explanation for why people known to be infected with the virus were deliberately sent to nursing homes. It sounds crazy, it is crazy, and it always was crazy.

And yet the idea that this was done deliberately seems almost unbelievable. And yet it was. I would love to know the details of just how these decisions were made. I suspect those responsible have already erased the evidence. I assume bureaucrats, committees, the hive mind, and people trained not to go against the grain all played prominent roles.

daskol said...

There are a million, no a billion, no a trillion reasons to be disgusted if you think about droplets bearing viral load, fecal matter in the air what actually causes bad breath to stink. We avoid the microscopic view, most of us anyway most of the time, because it's easy and helpful to ordinary life. We talk about celebrities as stars around which planets revolve instead of planets around which satellites revolve, even though we can perceive the latter and the former is on a scale too big to perceive. We like to think big, not small. Soon enough a new restaurant, or a potential new paramour, will come along and we'll abandon the view of one another as disgusting sources of microscopic death just as quickly as we all became obsessive compulsive about it. Except the OCD people, who can return to being the weirdos who think about this all the time.

elkh1 said...

Andrew, the governors are doing a good job in reducing little people's carbon foot prints and cutting down the healthcare expenses needed to take care of people who lingered pass Dr. Death Emmanuel's expiration date of 75 years.

Vonnegan said...

Howard, no, it's a portmanteau of Vonnegut and Vanagon. I don't know how the two words became related in my husband's mind, but they did; he put them together and kept using his new word. I decided it would make good online name so I stole it. Now my younger son has taken it and used it for his reddit screen name as well. The child is also an inventor of words, so I guess that's appropriate somehow.

Phidippus said...

Let's see if the Party of Science takes the hint and shuts their big know-it-all mouths for a while.

No, didn't think so.

Howard said...

I suspect Kurt inspired a lot of Vanagon living hippies.

Sam L. said...

We're All Gonna Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!Is bummer, no?

tcrosse said...

A mask makes it impossible to implement the Danny Thomas Spit Take.

Kevin said...

"Ordinary speech can emit small respiratory droplets that linger in the air for at least eight minutes and potentially much longer..."

Just think what extraordinary speech can do!

Bob said...

rhhardin said, "If you're in constant contact with actual infected people all the time, you want something really good."

There's a UK doctor who works around COVID patients. Early on, he tested positive (apparently mild case or no symptoms). Since then he works without any PPE whatsoever, saying he wants to keep his immune system "primed". He's still alive and kicking.

#23: COVID-19: ICU care, long-term effects and immunity with Dr Richard Breeze, podcast, starting about 11:15.

Char Char Binks said...

Miasma is now validated science, if not accepted SCIENCE!

Char Char Binks said...

We should all be confined to laboratories because SCIENCE!

bagoh20 said...

"It was those small respiratory droplets fault that turned nursing homes in to death camps, not Governors."

That's why we should let set murderers free and arrest the murder weapons instead.

How about we blame the car when someone drives over a pedestrian. Droplets have no agency. they don't make decisions about where they go, and they didn't go find those poor people in the rest homes. What the governors did was like bringing a pack of foxes into the chicken house. They knew what would happen, how could you not? Stupidity, carelessness, cruelty? One or all of those, but accidental it was not.

stevew said...

We are selling our house and have a buyer. As part of the home inspection they wanted to do a water test as we are on a well. Because of Covid and in the interest of time the buyer's realtor came to take the sample, which he collected out of the kitchen faucet. Two days later the results came back showing positive for coliform bacteria. We decided to have it retested and insisted that a professional take the new sample. When the new guy arrived he asked where the previous sample was taken, we told him the kitchen faucet. He laughed and said, no wonder it was positive, those things are a petri dish of bacteria, no one ever cleans them properly. He ran the water for about five minutes to get the pump activated, and then took the sample in the basement, nearer the source and after he cleaned that faucet. No more bacteria.

Wince said...

madAsHell said...
g = 9.81 m/s^2

Uniform acceleration of gravity, provided in vacuo.

Demonstrated with different acceleration rate on the Moon.

https://youtu.be/4mTsrRZEMwA?t=33

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ stevew

Good on getting a professional!! My husband and I have a business of wells, pumps, tanks, water systems. (He does real the work. I do billing and finances) 95% of the people in our area are on wells. We do water testing all the time. Also routinely do flow tests to determine the GPM of the well over time periods, the draw down (measuring how far the well water lowered) and and recovery time, which is the time it takes for water to get back to the static level.

NEVER take a test from the household plumbing. It is unsanitary. Always take the test directly from the closest source to the well. Usually an outside faucet on the pump house or other enclosure where the well head is located. I don't know where you are located but our well plumbing has to be enclosed in a building or other structure in order to avoid freezing of the water and damage to the equipment and tanks.

Realtors are always looking to cheat. Worse than used car salesmen for lying 😠. We have seen them take samples from bottles of water they bought at the store. If you are the buyer......get a professional to sample with no vested interest in the sale of the home.

BTW: Coliform bacteria is basically harmless, unless you are severely immune compromised. E-Coli...that's another issue.

Mark said...

Life is dangerous!!

In fact, just living, without anything more, is highly DEADLY.

Will Cate said...

Shes's a low-talker.

Mark said...

How did we ever sit together in restaurants and talk and eat? Saliva was always constantly flying about and getting up our nose and into our mouth and onto our food! It was inexpressibly gross.

Some things are better to never think about.

Such as the fact that if you smell someone's flatulence, you are breathing in particles of fecal matter.

Or, the fact that we are all full of shit. Literally. We would never walk around with it in our hands or in a package we carry with us. Yet, we all have a pound or two of shit in our very bodies. We are walking sewers.

Some things are better to never think about.

Howard said...

That's funny DBQ. I'm a hydrogeologist. Before the dirty water work took off in the 90s I worked on a number of municipal well projects in southern California and Florida. Most of my best friends in industry are drillers. You are correct that is real work with extra emphasis on real.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Howard. Yes. Really hard work.

Tomorrow he is pulling a dead pump from a 300+ ft well. On steel pipe. That stuff is heavy even without the water in the pipe. Unknown how deep the pump is set or how deep the well really is. Hard work! Takes hours and several men.

I'd better bake him a cake and thaw out a steak :-)

stevew said...

Thanks DBQ! To be fair to the realtor guy that took the first sample, I think in the interest of time he took some, unintended and unprofessional, shortcuts. We are on the northshore of Boston, our well is about 350-400 feet down in the back yard. The second sample, taken by a fourth generation well company guy (great grandson of the founder), came from a bibb type faucet immediately inside the house. He said he cleaned the faucet before running the sample into a proper container.

Mrs. stevew was quite surprised at the first test result showing bacteria - she fills her water glass out of that faucet, and drinks the water, all the time!

tim in vermont said...

“Our breath comes out white clouds, mingles and hangs in the air.” - Joan Baez singing about her and Dylan in Greenwich Village.

Nichevo said...

“Wage Peace”
By Judyth Hill


Wage peace with your breath. Breathe in firemen and rubble, breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds. Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields. Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees. Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.