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A well-ventilated room is essential to reduce the risk of airborne transmission. As such, the scientific community sets minimum limits on ventilation with the idea that increased ventilation reduces pathogen concentration and thus reduces the risk of transmission. In contrast, the upper limit on ventilation is usually determined by human comfort and the need to reduce energy consumption. While average pathogen concentration decreases with increased ventilation, local concentration depends on multiple factors and may not follow the same trend, especially within short exposure times over large separation distances. Here, we show through experiments and high-fidelity simulations the existence of a worst-case ventilation where local pathogen concentration increases near the receiving host. This occurs during the type of meetings that were recommended during the pandemic (and in some cases solely authorized) with reduced occupancy adhering to social distancing and short exposure times below 20 minutes. We maintain that for cases of high occupancy and long exposure time, increased ventilation remains necessary.


Copyright © 2024 K. A. Krishnaprasad et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Indoor Air



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