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Blowing Away Germs

March 28, 2012

A listener asks if opening all the windows will spread cold and flu germs around.



Blowing away germs…I’m Bob Hirshon, and this is Science Update.

A Science Update listener has heard that viruses can live for several hours outside the body. He wants to know if opening all the windows in a building will spread those germs around, infecting more people. We consulted infectious disease specialist William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He says not to worry, because viruses need to be at relatively high concentrations in order  to infect otherwise healthy people.

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER (VanderbiltUniversity):

Because people who spread the viruses do so usually within 3 feet of another person. If you open up the windows, that breeze will literally blow the tiny microscopic particles that hold the virus away, and so it will make the transmission of the virus much less likely.


And if you have a science question, give us a call at 1-800-why-isit. If we use your question, we’ll send you a Science Update mug! I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.