Bioaerosols and airborne transmission: integrating biological complexity into our perspective

This article was originally published here

Sci Total Environ. February 2022 23:154117. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154117. Online ahead of print.


There is broad consensus that airborne disease transmission continues to be a central concern of COVID-19, the complexity and understanding of which continue to complicate our attempts to control this pandemic. Masking used for both personal protection and source reduction predominates in our society today and, aside from vaccination, remains the public health measure that will reliably reduce aerosol transmission and the overall burden of disease (Gandhi and Marr, 2021). In the early advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially after the preliminary recognition of airborne transmission, considerable effort was expended in the application of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling aerosols. as well as calculations of risk models, the products of which have been detailed in the literature (Morawska et al., 2020; Buonanno et al., 2020a) and even disseminated in the media aimed at the public. While the respiratory route has emerged as the dominant exposure route for SARSCoV-2 transmission, much of what has been promoted by CFD has been applied to risk models to estimate community infection and, in some cases, the expected clinical results. COVID-19 has been shown to fit the profile of an obligate respiratory-borne pathogen, and the plausibility of using aerosol modeling as it looms with the emerging epidemiology of COVID-19 has provided many insights. evidence for promoting masking and optimizing ventilation as a required public health measure. Masking is often included as a factor in risk models developed and it remains a critically important part of our response to this airborne threat, and will ultimately agnostically reduce disease burden, although efforts to improve ventilation in spaces interiors remain a challenge. Arguably the most important concept in the airborne transmission of infectious agents is the biologically active component which includes the aerosol particle and the functional dynamic nature of the particle contents. Specifically, the innate generation, transport and ultimate deposition/disposition of bioaerosols; aerosol particles which almost exclusively harbor bioactive components, including viruses, when pathogens are transmitted through the air.

PMID:35218821 | DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154117

Sharon D. Cole