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Role of pathogen-laden expiratory droplet dispersion and natural ventilation explaining a COVID-19 outbreak in a coach bus

Luo, Q., Ou, C., Hang, J., Luo, Z. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2082-3958, Yang, H., Yang, X., Zhang, X. and Li, Y. (2022) Role of pathogen-laden expiratory droplet dispersion and natural ventilation explaining a COVID-19 outbreak in a coach bus. Building and Environment. ISSN 0360-1323 (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

The influencing mechanism of droplet transmissions inside crowded and poorly ventilated buses on infection risks of respiratory diseases is still unclear. Based on experiments of one-infecting-seven COVID-19 outbreak with an index patient at bus rear, we conducted CFD simulations to investigate integrated effects of initial droplet diameters(tracer gas, 5µm, 50µm and 100µm), natural air change rates per hour(ACH=0.62, 2.27 and 5.66h-1 related to bus speeds) and relative humidity(RH=35% and 95%) on pathogen-laden droplet dispersion and infection risks. Outdoor pressure difference around bus surfaces introduces natural ventilation airflow entering from bus-rear skylight and leaving from the front one. When ACH=0.62h-1(idling state), the 30-minute-exposure infection risk(TIR) of tracer gas is 15.3%(bus rear) - 11.1%(bus front), and decreases to 3.1%(bus rear)-1.3%(bus front) under ACH=5.66h-1(high bus speed).The TIR of large droplets(i.e., 100µm/50µm) is almost independent of ACH, with a peak value(~3.1%) near the index patient, because over 99.5%/97.0% of droplets deposit locally due to gravity. Moreover, 5µm droplets can disperse further with the increasing ventilation. However, TIR for 5µm droplets at ACH=5.66h-1 stays relatively small for rear passengers(maximum 0.4%), and is even smaller in the bus middle and front(<0.1%). This study verifies that differing from general rooms, most 5µm droplets deposit on the route through the long-and-narrow bus space with large-area surfaces(L~11.4m). Therefore, tracer gas can only simulate fine droplet with little deposition but cannot replace 5-100µm droplet dispersion in coach buses.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:No
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Energy and Environmental Engineering group
ID Code:104958
Publisher:Elsevier

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