The Influence of Simulated Sunlight on the Inactivation of Influenza Virus in Aerosols

J Infect Dis. 2020 Jan 14;221(3):372-378. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiz582.


Background: Environmental parameters, including sunlight levels, are known to affect the survival of many microorganisms in aerosols. However, the impact of sunlight on the survival of influenza virus in aerosols has not been previously quantified.

Methods: The present study examined the influence of simulated sunlight on the survival of influenza virus in aerosols at both 20% and 70% relative humidity using an environmentally controlled rotating drum aerosol chamber.

Results: Measured decay rates were dependent on the level of simulated sunlight, but they were not significantly different between the 2 relative humidity levels tested. In darkness, the average decay constant was 0.02 ± 0.06 min-1, equivalent to a half-life of 31.6 minutes. However, at full intensity simulated sunlight, the mean decay constant was 0.29 ± 0.09 min-1, equivalent to a half-life of approximately 2.4 minutes.

Conclusions: These results are consistent with epidemiological findings that sunlight levels are inversely correlated with influenza transmission, and they can be used to better understand the potential for the virus to spread under varied environmental conditions.

Keywords: aerosol; decay; influenza virus; relative humidity; sunlight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Humidity
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / radiation effects*
  • Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / transmission*
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / virology*
  • Sunlight*
  • Temperature
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Aerosols