This Odor Could Be a Warning Sign for Coronavirus

Your sense of smell might be able to keep you safe from COVID-19.

Using your sense of smell to sniff out trouble can be very helpful, especially when it comes to gauging how old those leftovers are or picking up whiffs of smoke where they shouldn't be. But it turns out, your nose may even help keep you safe from COVID-19, too. If you ever enter a room or building and pick up a musty smell, it just may be a good indicator that the space is high risk for coronavirus.

Amid COVID-19, "areas that seem musty, stale, stuffy, or any other sign that the air is not moving" should be avoided, Bruce Y. Lee, professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York School of Public Health, wrote for Forbes. "That applies to bars, restaurants, stores, and other business establishments, too."

Why is that? Well, that musty stench could be the sign of poor ventilation. "Poor ventilation can be an assault on the senses, including smell. In a home or room where the moisture can't escape, it can develop a musty smell," according to the experts at heating, cooling, and ventilation company HRV.

This means if you can easily pick up the scent of mold, mildew, rot, or dampness, you may be entering a space that has poor ventilation. And because coronavirus can be transmitted through contagious respiratory droplets that hang in the air, proper ventilation is pivotal in removing those pathogens from the air you breathe indoors.

"Ventilation plays a critical role in removing exhaled virus-laden air, thus lowering the overall concentration and therefore any subsequent dose inhaled by the occupants," wrote scientists at the University of Surrey's Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) in a recent coronavirus study.

Separately, epidemiologists out of the University of Hong Kong also recently found that poorly ventilated areas are at the center of many "super spreader" coronavirus cases, including call centers, places of worship, and restaurants. In many cases, reports of coronavirus outbreaks went hand in hand with locations being stuffier, less ventilated areas.

So, simply stop to take a quick whiff the next time you enter a new room or building and see if your nostrils get the scent of stuffiness. If you're worried, try cracking windows. And if that's not an option, you may want to relocate.

While avoiding large crowds is always a safe bet, it's especially important to avoid them in any indoor areas without a healthy breeze. And if you're looking for more COVID-19 warning signs, check out the 13 Coronavirus Symptoms That Are More Common Than a Sore Throat.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
Filed Under