Tree Pollen Facilitates COVID-19 Virus Spread – Carries SARS-CoV-2 Particles Farther

Tree Pollen Carries SARS-CoV-2 Particles Farther

A realistic computational model predicts an important correlation between airborne pollen and coronavirus transmission. Credit: Talib Dbouk

Computer model recreates a willow tree and nearby crowd to provide new perspective on social distancing measures.

Most models explaining how viruses are transmitted focus on viral particles escaping one person to infect a nearby person. A study on the role of microscopic particles in how viruses are transmitted suggests pollen is nothing to sneeze at.

In Physics of Fluids, by AIP Publishing, Talib Dbouk, and Dimitris Drikakis investigate how pollen facilitates the spread of an RNA virus like the COVID-19 virus. The study draws on cutting-edge computational approaches for analyzing fluid dynamics to mimic the pollen movement from a willow tree, a prototypical pollen emitter. Airborne pollen grains contribute to the spread of airborne viruses, especially in crowded environments.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time we show through modeling and simulation how airborne pollen micrograins are transported in a light breeze, contributing to airborne virus transmission in crowds outdoors,” Drikakis said.

The researchers noticed a correlation between COVID-19 infection rates and the pollen concentration on the National Allergy Map. Each pollen grain can carry hundreds of virus particles at a time. Trees alone can put 1,500 grains per cubic meter (35 cubic feet) into the air on heavy days.

The researchers set to work by creating all the pollen-producing parts of their computational willow tree. They simulated outdoor gatherings of roughly 10 or 100 people, some of them shedding COVID-19 particles, and subjected the people to 10,000 pollen grains.

“One of the significant challenges is the re-creation of an utterly realistic environment of a mature willow tree,” said Dbouk. “This included thousands of tree leaves and pollen grain particles, hundreds of stems, and a realistic gathering of a crowd of about 100 individuals at about 20 meters (66 feet) from the tree.”

Tuning the model to the temperature, windspeed, and humidity of a typical spring day in the U.S., the pollen passed through the crowd in less than one minute, which could significantly affect the virus load carried along and increase the risk of infection.

The authors said the 6-foot (1.8-meter) distance often cited for COVID-19 recommendations might not be adequate for those at risk for the disease in crowded areas with high pollen. New recommendations based on local pollen levels could be used to manage the infection risk better.

While calling attention to other forms of COVID-19 transmission, the authors hope their study stokes further interest in the fluid dynamics of plants.

Next, they look to better understand the mechanisms underlying the interaction between airborne pollen grains and the human respiratory system under different environmental conditions.

Reference: “On pollen and airborne virus transmission” by Talib Dbouk and Dimitris Drikakis, 22 June 2021, Physics of Fluids.
DOI: 10.1063/5.0055845

5 Comments on "Tree Pollen Facilitates COVID-19 Virus Spread – Carries SARS-CoV-2 Particles Farther"

  1. Please take my name off your mailing list. Not interested in what you’re selling.

    • Hey 👋. Don’t give it up that easily. These BOZOS 🤡 need watching. They are ensconced in a self-perpetuating DELUSION.
      But PLEASE… Continue to Rage Against the Machine

      AOM 🦋

  2. Deceptive headline… Back in the distant 20th Century, “Some Guy” built a 1/25 scale model Spitfire aeroplane; complete with a 12 cylinder, gas powered engine. It didn’t fly. Scale to weight ratio and all that “messy” real stuff. It just sat there with its prop spinning until it ran out of fuel.

    The day I pin my life or perceptions to an Artificial “Intelligence” (keyword: ARTIFICIAL): A MORONIC MACHINE with only a thumb and forefinger, which can ONLY compile massive amounts of ones and zeros at “lightning” speed (et cetera)… is the day I tape a pair of “scaled-up” butterfly wings to my back and jump off a cliff. In THEORY, maybe even PRINCIPLE, and my SOTA computations tell me it works … et cetera…

    Not going to happen. A much more efficient “computer” (the one in my head) tells me: CAUTION WILL ROBINSON.

    The above “research” was an AIMED STUDY; using a model to confirm an hypothesis. But if you wuz to tell me it was “for reals” a test of aerosol distribution modalities of an ARTIFICIALLY created pathogen, I MIGHT bet my life on its conclusions.
    🤖 🤖 🤖

    😳 Can’t believe I just said that.

    GET REAL! Available in QUANTITY at your local CABEZA™ Convenience Favela.


  3. I just cut down all the trees in my yard to keep my family safe from covid.

  4. Time to burn down the rainforests. Maybe that’s why Brazil has so many cases. LOL

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