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Model suggests how airborne coronavirus particles spread in grocery store aisles

A new study models the spread of small airborne viral particles spread in a grocery store. The researchers simulated a scenario in which a person coughs in a store aisle between shelves.
A new study models the spread of small airborne viral particles spread in a grocery store. The researchers simulated a scenario in which a person coughs in a store aisle between shelves.
(Image: © Petteri Peltonen / Aalto University)

Scientists in Finland have modeled how small airborne viral particles spread in a grocery store setting, which may help us better understand the spread of the new coronavirus.

For the study, researchers at Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Helsinki used a supercomputer to simulate the spread of small viral particles leaving a person's respiratory tract through coughing. They simulated a scenario in which a person coughs in a store aisle between shelves, and took into account ventilation.

They found that, in this situation, an aerosol "cloud" spreads outside the immediate vicinity of the person coughing, and diluted as it spreads, the authors said. But this process takes up to several minutes, and in the meantime, a person who walks by could in theory inhale the small particles.

"Someone infected by the coronavirus can cough and walk away, but then leave behind extremely small aerosol particles carrying the coronavirus. These particles could then end up in the respiratory tract of others in the vicinity," Ville Vuorinen, and assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Aalto University, who studies fluid dynamics, said in a statement.

Based on their findings, the researchers recommend avoiding busy indoor spaces.

The researchers modelled the movement of aerosol particles smaller than 20 micrometers, which include particles small enough to remain suspended in the air (rather than falling to the floor) or move along air currents.

The researchers will continue to refine their modeling and develop visualizations to help better understand the movement of airborne particles.

Originally published on Live Science. 

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  • Wanda
    This is a very important model and it makes perfect sense. Enter a store aisle and encounter a completely invisible enemy! This threat requires more than 6 feet of distancing to prevent infection. Thank you for publishing.
    Reply
  • jbundy48
    Wanda said:
    This is a very important model and it makes perfect sense. Enter a store aisle and encounter a completely invisible enemy! This threat requires more than 6 feet of distancing to prevent infection. Thank you for publishing.
    And just how are we supposed to get groceries? All supermarkets here are busy, and so all we'd be left with are small convenience stores filled with unhealthy foods.
    Reply
  • lileediver
    Wear a mask.
    Reply
  • Wanda
    jbundy48 said:
    And just how are we supposed to get groceries? All supermarkets here are busy, and so all we'd be left with are small convenience stores filled with unhealthy foods.
    Wear a mask. Wear gloves. Shop at off-hours. Request delivery. Wait until oblivious shoppers have cleared your aisle. Order online. Get creative with what's already in your fridge and cupboard. Act like a New Englander: "Use it up, wear it out. Make it do or do without."
    Reply
  • paperpushermj
    admin said:
    Scientists in Finland have modeled how small airborne viral particles spread in a grocery store setting.

    Model suggests how airborne coronavirus particles spread in grocery store aisles : Read more
    It looks like someone set off a fire extinguisher...The Model must be a holdover from the 2nd hand smoke crowd
    Reply
  • Wanda
    paperpushermj said:
    It looks like someone set off a fire extinguisher...The Model must be a holdover from the 2nd hand smoke crowd
    Not a holdover. Just another sickening example of how "My smoking is none of your business" and "Sure, I'm sick, but I'm out of Fritos" no longer hold up as excuses for exposing others to the hazardous effects of one's personal vices and illnesses. Keep your smoke and your germs to yourself!!
    Reply