Don’t just cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze; tilt your head down, study indicates
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Coughing downward may be the best way to prevent germs from traveling far and infecting others.
A recent study published in AIP Advances used three mannequins to mimic people going up and down stairs. Researchers examined the fall of droplets from each mannequin to model how respiratory droplets fall from people.
When a mannequin went upstairs, particles concentrated below the shoulder and moved downward for a short distance. Going downstairs, particles dispersed over the mannequins’ heads and flowed over a long distance.
“These results suggest that we should cough with the head down toward the ground to ensure that most of the droplets enter the wake region,” said Hongping Wang, the lead author.
The study’s authors stress the importance of not only coughing downward but also continuing social distancing, especially for people going downstairs or riding descending escalators and for covering one’s coughs and sneezes.