In the midst of the global pandemic, finding effective strategies to combat infectious diseases has become an urgent priority. Recognizing the potential of collating publicly available information on droplet properties, a team of multidisciplinary researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, the Max Planck Institute for Dynamical Systems, the University of Denver, Georg August University, and St. Petersburg State University has come together to address this challenge. By examining the distribution, composition, and emission patterns of droplets, these scientists aim to contribute to the development of mitigation strategies for non-contact infectious diseases.
At the onset of the pandemic, people worldwide sought ways to support the fight against the virus. Christopher Pöhlker, an atmospheric scientist, and his wife, Mira, a cloud scientist, recognized the significance of droplet size, an aspect relevant to their respective fields of expertise. Surprisingly, their search for existing research on respiratory droplet size and its relation to airborne disease transmission yielded limited results. Determined to bridge this knowledge gap, they initiated their own research project, driven by the idea of collecting and organizing pertinent information to assist medical researchers in combating infectious diseases.
To accomplish their objective, the team of researchers comprising experts from various disciplines curated available information on infectious droplet size. They subsequently devised a parameterization scheme to consolidate this data effectively. The scheme involved the creation of a classification system based on different modes determined by the droplet size originating from specific regions of the body. Without assigning names, the researchers defined five categories, each corresponding to a specific range of sizes (ranging from less than 0.2 µm to 130 µm). Additionally, the droplets were classified based on their origin within the body, such as the lungs, mouth, tongue or lips, and larynx-trachea. Recognizing the need for further understanding, the researchers incorporated space for data that would establish correlations between droplet size and infection potential, an area that still requires exploration.
While the collation of existing data marks a significant achievement, the researchers recognize that their work is far from complete. Human studies will play a crucial role in further enhancing their parameterization scheme. By conducting comprehensive studies, the team anticipates providing medical researchers with a valuable resource that can guide the development of anti-transmission strategies against infectious diseases. With a clear vision for future research, the team is poised to make even greater contributions to the field.
The collaborative efforts of atmospheric scientists, chemists, and infectious disease specialists from esteemed institutions have yielded an innovative approach to understanding droplet properties for mitigating non-contact infectious diseases. Through the collation and parameterization of existing data, these experts aim to arm medical researchers with invaluable insights into droplet transmission. As the fight against infectious diseases continues, these efforts promise to bolster the development of effective measures to combat the spread of infectious agents. With ongoing research and advancements, the world can be better prepared to face future health crises.