Study: Ventilation Helps Reduce Covid Levels in Dormitories

Opening a window could halve the amount of coronavirus in a room, according to a new observational study of infected students in a Unive...


Opening a window could halve the amount of coronavirus in a room, according to a new observational study of infected students in a University of Oregon isolation dormitory.

The study, that has been uploaded, is small and has not yet been published in a scientific journal. But it provides concrete evidence for several important principles, showing that the virus spreads from infected people in the air of a room; that the more viruses they carry, the more the virus accumulates inside; and that natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation appear to reduce this environmental viral load.

“Ventilation is one of the most important mitigation strategies we have,” said Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, who has led the research and heads the Institute for Health in the Built Environment.

The researchers studied 35 students at the University of Oregon who tested positive for the coronavirus between January and May. All students then moved into single rooms in a Covid isolation dormitory for a 10-day isolation period.

Scientists placed Petri dishes in each room and used an active air sampler to trap aerosols floating in the air. Several times a day, they also dabbed various surfaces in the room, as well as the noses and mouths of the students.

Then they used PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, to determine if the virus was present in each sample and, if so, at what level.

The data confirmed that there was a clear link between the amount of virus students carried and environmental viral load. As the amount of virus in students’ noses and mouths decreased during their isolation period, the amount of airborne virus also decreased.

“There was a significant correlation between nasal samples and air samples in the room,” said Dr Van Den Wymelenberg.

Viral loads in theaters were higher, on average, when students were symptomatic than when they had none, although scientists pointed out that even asymptomatic students emit a lot of viruses. Several self-reported symptoms, including cough, were specifically associated with higher environmental viral loads.

The researchers also calculated the mechanical ventilation rate for each room and asked the students to report how often the windows were open. They found that viral loads were about twice as high, on average, in rooms with windows closed more than half the time.

“Ventilation is really important, and I think we’re just starting to realize how important it is,” said Leslie Dietz, study co-author and University of Oregon researcher.

The study had several limitations, including the fact that it only included young adults and that the symptoms and window data were self-reported. The researchers also noted that they had not measured how much of the virus in the room was viable or capable of infecting other people.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Study: Ventilation Helps Reduce Covid Levels in Dormitories
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