Researchers from IBM Reasearch Europe have studied ventilation systems in public transport to assess the risks of asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19. The risk of contamination would be higher or lower depending on the passenger seat.
The survey was carried out “by computer and experimentally,” said the research team in an article published on Wednesday in the journal Physics of Fluids. The latter is edited by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), reported Slate which resumes the study.
In particular, the study evaluated the effects of ventilation in a rectangular space with rows of three people seated, such as in a TGV for example. In this means of transport, the air would arrive at the top and be extracted at the bottom through the air vents located near the windows.
The aisle seat would be the riskiest
With this system, the droplets exhaled by the passengers seated on the side of the window would be directed more upwards and would invade less the space of the other users. The risk of infection would therefore be less.
Likewise, if an infected person sits on the aisle side, their droplets would be more directly sucked down through the ventilation system. The risks of transmission would be reduced. On the contrary, if an infected passenger is seated in the middle, his exhalations would tend to be directed towards the user on the aisle side. The latter therefore has a greater risk of contamination.
Faced with the epidemic and asymptomatic transmission, the researchers who wrote the article therefore invite “better design of post-COVID-19 space and ventilation systems”.
As Slate reminds us, the study remains on a laboratory scale and does not yet reproduce the situation in real life of public transport. Work in this direction is continuing.