Monday, May 16

Covid-19: by train or plane, here is the seat to avoid, according to a study

Faced with the Covid-19 epidemic and the proliferation of variants, should we abandon the question of comfort for that of the risk of infection when choosing a place on the train or plane? A team of researchers has in any case identified the seats where it is easier to be contaminated.

In their study, published at the end of December in the journal Physics of Fluids, IBM Research scientists analyzed the case of a row of three people, sitting between the window and the hallway. The air entering the cabin (or train) comes from the top and is extracted by air vents, located near the windows. In fact, thanks to the latter, “24.1% of the droplets are eliminated in the first 40 seconds”.

Still, the others therefore spread throughout the cabin. “Which has a negative aspect to contain the risk of infection in a single row but has the advantage of diluting the concentration of infectious droplets”, describe the researchers. What give a chance to the neighbors of the sick people not to be necessarily contaminated.

avoid the aisle seat

Above all, the study shows that travelers seated in the same row as the patient do not all have the same risk of being infected. Indeed, the one sitting next to the window takes advantage of the air vents to evacuate the air and the droplets. In addition, the researchers noticed that, on this side, these droplets rise vertically, becoming less invasive.

On the contrary, the traveler seated on the aisle side is less fortunate. It appears that the droplets contaminate its space more. His own secretions are also “immediately drawn in from below by the ventilation system”, preventing their evacuation.

If the researchers conclude that it is necessary to improve the ventilation and space systems, their study also points out that it is better to settle next to the window, in a train or a plane, to try to limit its risks of being contaminated by another passenger.

The team of scientists made a point of specifying that their work contains certain limits, since they could not be carried out in real conditions, during a journey. The air pressure, its flow rate during the trip, the size of the seat or the behavior of the infected passenger (how he speaks, in which direction, etc.) could modify their results.

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