Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Many Viruses Are There Around Us?

The fact that we're constantly surrounded by viruses and bacteria is nothing new. But exactly how many?

A team of Korean scientists set up some traps to catch viruses and bacteria floating in the air. They set the traps in Seoul, in an industrial complex in western Korea, and in a forest. Their work was published in the August issue of The Journal of Virology.
Virus. Image:
Based on their study, they found out that the abundance of airborne viruses exhibited a seasonal fluctuation. The abundance increased from autumn to winter, and decreased toward spring.
They also came up with some estimates: there are between 1.6 million to 40 million viruses, and 860,000 to 11 million bacteria in each cubic meter of air. So we're basically wading through a soup of viruses.

You need not be worried by the figures though, because the scientists found out that a majority of these viruses were plant-associated viruses, followed by animal-infecting viruses. The rest were unknown virus species, meaning they might or might not be dangerous at all.

Given that we breathe in roughly 0.01 cubic meters of air each minute, the results above suggest that we suck in at least several hundred thousand viruses every minute.

Stop breathing may prevent these airborne parasites from entering your body. Choose your options wisely.


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