Do atmospheric plastics act as fomites for novel viruses?

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Renjith VishnuRadhan, Divya David T, Eldho T I, Jacky Bhagat


Plastic particles are ubiquitous in various environmental compartments, the atmosphere being the least explored compartment in terms of plastic pollution. The way that atmospheric plastics affect the biological systems has not yet been explored when compared to aquatic ecosystems. There are many speculated human health impacts, one definite and direct impact of atmospheric plastics would be towards the respiratory system as these are previously found extensively in human lungs. We identify the ability of suspended atmospheric plastics to act as a potential fomite for microbes, both pathogenic and non-pathogenic. We discuss the relevance of such fomites in the wake of the current global pandemic involving a novel respiratory virus, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Virus laden bioaerosols can adhere to the plastic particles and can be directly transported to the airway and lungs, besides enabling its long-distance travel. Currently, it is not known whether these pathways are more efficient than the bioaerosols itself in driving the spread of viral infections. Once sufficient data regarding the global spatial dynamics of the current virus transmission is available, it will be interesting to examine the dynamics of the disease in heavily urbanized regions where there is a substantial amount of prevailing atmospheric plastic particles. Thus, we hope that this communication will serve as a call for astute investigations in this less explored realm concerning human health impacts of suspended atmospherics plastics, and its role in the transmission and transport of novel respiratory viruses.



Atmospheric Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Engineering, Environmental Health and Protection, Environmental Sciences, Life Sciences, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


atmosphere, COVID-19, bioaerosols, coronavirus, microplastics, SARS-CoV-2


Published: 2020-04-15 16:10

Last Updated: 2020-04-18 06:58

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Academic Free License (AFL) 3.0

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