According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pathogens that are transmitted through the air will be described by the term ‘ Infectious Respiratory Particles’ (IRPs).

More on the news:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a report titled ‘Global technical consultation report on proposed terminology for pathogens that transmit through the air’.
  • The WHO has introduced the term to address the lack of a common language during the COVID-19 pandemic and facilitate better communication.
  • The varying terminologies used by experts highlighted gaps in common understanding and hindered efforts to curb pathogen transmission. The new term IRPs aims to provide clarity.
  • The pathogens Include  those that cause respiratory infections like COVID-19, influenza, measles, MERS, SARS, and Tuberculosis(TB), among others.

Respiratory Particles

  • They are tiny airborne objects we breathe in, impacting our health.
  • The particles that are generated contain, in addition to water, many other constituents, including salts, proteins, mucus, and pathogens such as bacteria or viruses.


  • Droplets: Larger (over 5 micrometers) expelled through coughs, sneezes, etc.
  • Aerosols: Smaller (under 5 micrometers) and linger in the air longer.
  • Airborne dust: Includes dust mites, pollen, and mold spores.
  • Size Matters: Larger droplets get trapped in the upper airways, while smaller aerosols reach the lungs.
  • Health Risks: These particles can lead to respiratory illnesses like the common cold, flu, COVID-19, and asthma.

Global Technical Consultation Report:

  • It aimed to identify terminology that could be understood and accepted by different technical disciplines. The agreed process was to develop a consensus document that could be endorsed by global agencies and entities.

Impact and Importance:

  • Consensus on terminology will guide research agendas and public health interventions.
  • Enhances identification, communication, and response to existing and new pathogens.

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