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One Way to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission: Open a Window

Toby Graham /

It might not feel like it, but summer’s right around the corner. I’m not telling you this merely to remind of the unrelenting march of time—as They Might Be Giants would sing, “you’re older than you’ve ever been, and now you’re getting older”—but to hopefully persuade you to let in some sunlight and breathe that crisp spring air.

Seriously. Open a window.

Oh, did I mention it can help you fight COVID-19? Maybe I should have led with that.

Yes, according to a new study in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal mSystems, fresh air and sunlight can reduce the spread of the virus that’s currently holding us all hostage. Researchers at the University of California, Davis and the University of Oregon found that “[i]ncreasing the amount of air flowing in from outside and the rate of air exchange can dilute virus particles indoors.”

In other words, the coronavirus doesn’t hang around as long in well-ventilated areas. Moisture helps, too (in moderation):

“Virus particles like drier air, so maintaining a high relative humidity can help. Virus-bearing droplets get bigger in humid air, meaning they settle out more quickly and don’t travel as far. Humidity also seems to interfere with the lipid envelope around viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Too much humidity, however, can promote mold growth.”

Read “Study shows better airflow, more natural light can reduce spread of COVID-19 at work” in Safety+Health magazine.

It’s important to stop and smell the roses, even in times like these. Maybe especially in times like these. It might just save your life.

Note that better airflow is not a complete virus mitigation strategy unto itself. You’ll still need to make sure employees are washing their hands frequently, keeping their distance from others, cleaning and disinfecting shared surfaces regularly, and following other guidelines from local health authorities. But with proper ventilation and sunlight, they can do all that in a brighter, happier, slightly less dangerous environment.

For more information and resources about COVID-19, including a webinar series on returning to work safely, visit KPA’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

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