Air sickness: Study shows viruses shower down from above

While your mom undoubtedly told you at some point to "go out and get some fresh air," a new study shows that it isn't so fresh outside after all -- what with all the viruses dropping out of the sky.

A team of researchers from the U.S., Canada, and Spain have confirmed that an "astonishing" number of viruses are routinely swept up from surfaces, hitch a ride on weather patterns, and scatter back down over us. 

In a media release, University of British Columbia virologist Curtis Suttle said, "Every day, more than 800 million viruses are deposited per square metre above the planetary boundary layer -- that’s 25 viruses for each person in Canada."

Shoved around by the wind, these bugs can easily scoot through the atmosphere from the surface, up to just below the stratosphere -- the layer trafficked by airliners -- and back down again.

Part of what makes it so easy is that viruses are teensy, not much bigger than a single strand of DNA, and have been built to stick to organic material like trees, or soil -- or you and me.


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