Doing This One Thing Releases 1,000 Droplets of Coronavirus a Minute

New research reveals how this everyday activity can spread the COVID-19 contagion rapidly.

There are plenty of activities we know are dangerous in the time of coronavirus, from touching your face to using public restrooms. But an even more common activity may be spreading the COVID-19 contagion at a particularly high rate. According to research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), talking loudly can spread 1,000 droplets of the coronavirus per minute.

"Loud speech can emit thousands of oral fluid droplets per second," according to the report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

According to the researchers, average droplet emission rates while talking loudly were 1,000 per minute, "with peak emission rates as high as 10,000."

What's even scarier is these droplets are still detectable in the air for up to 14 minutes in an environment with stagnant air, leading the study's researchers to report that "there is a substantial probability that normal speaking causes airborne virus transmission in confined environments." In other words, speaking normally while indoors can still spread contaminated respiratory droplets, perhaps at a lower rate than talking loudly.

This research adds to a long list of evidence that's emerged about how the riskiest places to contract the coronavirus are high trafficked and indoor locations with poor ventilation.

It also makes a case for the importance of wearing facial coverings or masks as a means to abate the spread of the virus, especially considering many people infected with coronavirus are asymptomatic carriers. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 40 percent of all coronavirus transmissions happen from people who show no symptoms. That means even a conversation at a normal volume in close quarters where both people assume they're healthy could potentially cause the virus to spread. And for more on those without COVID-19 symptoms who are contagious, check out This Is Why Some People Have Coronavirus Symptoms and Others Don't.


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