BEACON TRANSCRIPT – You might have thought that rain cleans everything around. A new study from MIT shows that rain can actually spread bacteria. This study offers an insight in the world of bacteria and the role of rain in spreading diseases.
Scientists from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT posted a video which shows, in high resolution, what exactly happens when raindrops reach the dry soil full of bacteria. When a light rain occurs during a day with moderate temperatures, if the raindrops hit the earth at a certain speed, they release sprays of mist.
Each tiny particle of mist released can carry thousands of bacteria and is afterwards carried away by wind in any direction. These bacteria can survive an hour in the tiny mist droplets.
The number of bubbles in a raindrop can decide how much bacteria the drop will carry. The more bubbles inside the drop, the more bacteria it can host and then transfer through bubble bursting. Imagine pouring soda into a glass. Bubble bursting resemble the fizz created at the top of the glass.
Cullen Buie, one of the authors of the study and associate professor at MIT, said that the study might help in finding new methods to contain pathogens. It suggests the fact that rain might help in the spreading of a pathogen from plants which might be transferred into soil.
Also, artificial droplets might help in the spreading of such pathogens. Sprinkler systems have droplets similar to raindrops, so even humans might contribute to the spreading of bacteria.
We should be aware that rain can disperse bacteria around, since this process is vital for our health, for agriculture, and even climate change. If aerosols can spread any diseases so easily, imagine what implications they might have if deadly bacteria reach plants, animals, and humans.
The impact of rain might be big in spreading diseases, since researchers discovered that the number of bacteria hiding in raindrop ranges from 10,000 trillion to 800,000 trillion. This is an enormous amount that we could have barely imagined until now.
However, the experts tell us that we should not worry, at least for the moment. They need more studies to see how exactly rain disperses bacteria and how these bacteria can affect the living creatures around.
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