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Older people exhale exponentially more aerosol particles: Study

  • Published
    8th Jun, 2023

Recently, Scientists have reported that healthy people emit exponentially more aerosol particles from their lungs as they age, both at rest and during exercise.

In an aerosol, very fine solid or liquid particles are suspended in a fluid. For example, air that contains ‘PM2.5 particulate matter’ can be considered an aerosol.

About the study:
  • Older studies had shown that the amount of aerosol particles that people of all ages emitted increased by more than 100-fold from rest to intense exercise. 
  • The study found that older people, aged 60-70 years, emitted twice as many aerosol particles and five-times as much dry volume i.e., the volume of dried aerosol particles, as those aged 20-39.
  • Significance:
    • The new findings suggest disease-transmission models may have to account differently for younger and older people.
    • Higher aerosol emissions by older people could potentially correlate with a higher infection risk for others when an older infected person is present compared to a younger infected person.

What are Air-borne Diseases?

  • Airborne diseases are illnesses spread by tiny pathogens in the air. These can be bacteria, fungi, or viruses, but they are all transmitted through airborne contact.
  • In most cases, an airborne disease is contracted when someone breathes in infected air.
  • And a person also spreads the disease through their breath, particularly by sneezing and coughing, and through phlegm.
  • Particles that cause airborne diseases are small enough to cling to the air.
  • They hang on dust particles, moisture droplets, or on the breath until they are picked up. They are also acquired by contact with bodily fluids, such as mucus or phlegm.
  • Common airborne diseases include: Influenza, common cold, Mumps, Measles, Whooping cough.
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