Keep Windows Open to Reduce Infectious Particles While Driving

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Asimanshu Das, Ph.D. student Brown University School of Engineering

Asimanshu Das

Asimanshu Das, Ph.D. student
Brown University School of Engineering

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Driving in a car with  ride-share or car-pool is a widely prevalent social interaction. The study aimed to address the airflows inside cars in various window open/closed configurations using computer simulations, and also looking into the possibility of movement of aerosol-type of particles from one occupant to other.

The main findings are that opening windows provides a likely benefit to reduce the potentially pathogenic aerosols inside the cabin. Generally, more windows the better, but at the least it would be advisable to have one rear side window and one frontside window open.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Driving with open windows definitely minimizes infectious particles, by increasing the fresh air circulation in the cabin.  Keeping all four windows open is best, but when that is not possible, two opened windows can also offer a good degree of air exchange in the cabin.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This is a relevant question for most enclosed spaces, building interiors to public transport to cars. It is also useful to investigate flow patterns in trucks, minivan and car with moonroof which can indicate some non-intuitive results.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: The findings are limited to airborne model and the simulations do not have capability to look at larger drops released when sneezing or coughing. Also, mask wearing is absolutely important and avoiding touching surfaces is also important as well as using hand sanitizer and cleaning potentially contaminated surfaces. After all of these measured followed, one can open windows to cause as much air in the cabin to be flushed out and increase the air changes rate.

The study is also applicable to a driving speed, and cannot be applied to low driving speeds or when stuck in traffic. In such situations once might open the windows and also use heating/air-co to increase the air intake from the surroundings.  This study is not making conclusions about the risks of infection, but rather tells about possible measures to reduce the risks.


Airflows inside passenger cars and implications for airborne disease transmission
Varghese Mathai, Asimanshu Das, Jeffrey A. Bailey and Kenneth Breuer, 4 December 2020, Science Advances.

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Last Updated on December 11, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD