We all have walked down the sidewalk and caught a whiff of someone smoking – even from many feet away. If you are not a smoker, it is even more pronounced. If you can smell and get these cigarette tobacco particles in your nose, could this not also be true for Coronavirus?
First off, just how big is a Coronavirus? Scientists have already used electron microscopes to measure how big the Coronavirus is. Coronavirus particles (or “virions”) are spheres with diameters of approximately 0.125 microns (125 nm). The smallest particles are 0.06 microns, and the largest is 0.14 microns.
Armed with this information, the next question we need to ask: what are the particle sizes of common items we know, including tobacco smoke? Please see the following table:
Common items and their respective particle sizes:
|Postage Stamp, 1 inch high||25,400 microns|
|Eye of a Needle||1,230 microns|
|Human Hair||40 to 300 microns|
|Oil Smoke / Perfume||0.03 to 1 micron|
|Fertilizer||10 to 1000 microns|
|Tobacco Smoke||0.01 to 1 micron|
|Coal Dust||1 to 100 microns|
|Beach Sand||100 to 2000 microns|
|Mold Spores||10 to 30 microns|
|Pollens||10 to 1000 microns|
|Typical Atmospheric Dust||0.001 to 30 microns|
Particles come in many shapes and sizes. When you get down to the microscopic level, airborne particles can be called tiny and others that, by comparison, can be gargantuan. To determine if a material is appropriate to be used in a given formula, you’ll need to know the particle’s shape (morphology), size, and distribution (granulometry). The shape is easily determined under a microscope and classified as atomized (spherical or spheroidal), granular, or a flake.
What about filters? HEPA filters remove most particles measuring .3 microns or larger, but what about viruses, which can be as small as .005 microns? In this case, it may be ideal to use an air purifier that uses UV light to kill germs, bacteria, and viruses. In UV-based air purifiers, the air is pulled through the UV-C light, which destroys many of the harmful airborne molecules, creating a cleaner, healthier air.
With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, millions of people have to become mask experts overnight. Yet masks are complicated. Do surgical masks capture Coronavirus particles? Do I have to use an N95 mask to protect me? In a study, researchers shot actual virus particles at N95 masks. The masks captured over 95% of virus particles. But when you wear them with poorly fitted masks, doesn’t the air just leak out the side? It depends on what is meant by poorly fitted. Even poorly performing masks captured over 90% of viruses. That cotton handkerchief, however, at best does about 25%.
To answer the question of Coronavirus vs. tobacco smoking particles – the answer is that they are similar. This may also apply to toilet smells when flushing and other body smells you may pass. This article is not to say whether you should or should not wear a mask, or the sufficiency of the concentration level of Coronavirus particles to contract the disease, rather, to inform you a little more on the science of particle sizes.