The macroscopic world we live in seems to be increasingly threatened by a microscopic world that we cannot see and which is inhabited by viruses, bacteria, particles invisible to the naked eye, but very dangerous to our health. The Visual Capitalist platform has created a perspective chart of the dimensions of these invisible enemies, which it compares to the famous “hair” standard.
How small are the particles we fight to live the life we have been used to? How do they compare?
For example, SARS-CoV-2 virus, although small (invisible to the naked eye), is not the smallest virus.
The Zika virus and the T4 bacteriophage (responsible for E. coli) are only a small fraction compared to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Coronaviruses, on the other hand, are smaller than white or red blood cells (and are invisible to the naked eye).
To view the graph in full resolution, click here
Particles visible to the naked eye
At the other end of the scale, we find pollen, salt and sand, which are much larger than viruses and bacteria and even enter the world of objects visible to the naked eye.
Due to their size, the human body is able to block them – the molecule must be less than 10 microns (1 micron = one thousandth of a millimeter) for it to be inhaled through the respiratory system.
Generally, pollen and sand remain trapped in the nose and throat, not reaching the lungs. However, smaller molecules can overcome these barriers.
Air pollution is one of the leading causes of death in the world. In fact, pollution is more deadly than smoking, malaria or AIDS.
The main source of contamination are small particles of matter (dust, dirt, soot) (about 2.5 microns) that reach our lungs.
Smoke particles from fires measuring 0.4 – 0.7 microns are even more dangerous, causing not only lung problems but also cardiovascular and neurological diseases.
Publisher: Bogdan Pacurar