Aerosols versus Droplets

Lisa Cai Community, Newcomer Information, Updates

Growing evidence suggests the coronavirus may be an airborne virus. This means that the virus can float in the air for hours in aerosols and infect people as they inhale.

Previously the WHO has said the virus mainly spreads through small droplets from the nose and mouth of an infected person when he or she coughs or sneezes.

What are aerosols?
  • Aerosols are fine liquid droplets in the air.
What are droplets?
  • Droplets are very small drops of a liquid.
How are aerosols different from droplets?

You may notice that the word “droplets” appears in the definition of “aerosols”. That’s because the main difference between “droplets” and “aerosols” lies in their sizes.

  • Droplets expelled from a sick person’s nose and mouth are larger and heavier. They quickly sink to the floor or onto a surface.
  • Aerosols are smaller and lighter. They can float in the air, move across a room and possibly remain infectious for hours.
  • Aerosols are produced in many more different ways, for example when we breathe, talk, cough, sneeze, and sing.
Based on what we know so far, what should we do to prevent COVID-19?
  • Spend time outside as much as you can.
  • Wearing a mask outdoors protects you from other people close to you.
  • When indoors, wear a mask and open windows and doors to let in outdoor air.
  • Wash your hands frequently.

Word of the Day:

Inhale: to breathe in. The opposite of “inhale” is “exhale”, which means “to breathe out”.