Open Windows, Let In Natural Light To Dilute Coronavirus Particles, Say Researchers

Natural light and fresh air are free, limitless, and have no downside.

open windows of a house
christels / Pixabay

Natural light and fresh air are free, limitless, and have no downside.

A team of scientists from the University of California, Davis recommends opening windows and letting in fresh air and natural light to help “dilute” the novel coronavirus, Yahoo News U.K. reports. The recommendation comes as new evidence appears to suggest that the virus spreads further and lasts longer on surfaces than previously thought.

Writing in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal mSystems, the team of researchers theorizes that opening up windows and blinds may help prevent the virus from “settling” indoors.

For months, health officials have been warning people to maintain a distance of at least six feet from one another in order to limit the spread of the virus. Now, new research suggests a distance of at least twice that may not be enough. As the New York Post reported, the virus can spread at least 13 feet in the air when expelled from a person carrying it and can also travel on shoes.

What’s more, the virus could possibly survive on surfaces — such as plastic and stainless steel — for up to three days.

In order to combat the virus by “diluting” it, the team recommends simply opening up the windows, letting in natural light and fresh air.

“Building ventilation source and distribution path length can affect the composition of indoor microbial communities,” the paper reads. In other words, letting in fresh air can blast apart a group of pathogens, making their distribution indoors more on-par with what it is outdoors — which is to suggest, potentially safer.

The paper goes on to describe commercial and industrial air movement and filtration systems in detail — in the context of explaining how such systems disrupt and filter microbes — before concluding the same result can largely be achieved simply by opening a window.

“For most buildings, the easiest way to deliver outside air directly across the building envelope is to open a window,” the researchers wrote.

duct work inside a building
  Daniel Kinnetz / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Similarly, pulling back blinds or curtains and letting in fresh sunlight can also help break down the coronavirus.

The paper notes that sunlight and fresh air have an added bonus — both are free and limitless.

None of this is to suggest that other precautions against the coronavirus should be discarded in favor of opening the windows and letting in sunlight. The team continues to stress the importance of regular hand-washing or the use of commercially available hand sanitizer — as well as frequent disinfecting of surfaces — in order to stop the spread of the virus.