I understand "by taking on fluid from the air" as "by absorbing fluid from the air." Am I on the right track?

"Take on" in dictionaries seem to mean "undertake" here. I am not sure.

SARS-CoV-2 may have a rough time when frozen food is transported. During air travel, temperatures drop to between -20°C and -30°C in cargo holds when planes are airborne, rising to a much higher temperature when they land. By ship, Tang says the virus could suffer from the “salty air issue”, where salt levels in the air can affect the number of viruses. Changes in humidity on frozen food’s journey may also negatively affect SARS-CoV-2, as the lipid membrane can be disrupted by taking on fluid from the air.

Source: New Scientist

  • 'Take on' can mean 'undertake', but here I suspect it just means 'take in'. Commented Feb 12, 2021 at 13:14

1 Answer 1


Yes, "taking on" variably means to absorb, to become attached to, or to begin carrying. For example, a boat "taking on water" means that water is coming into the boat. "Taking on the properties of [x]" means that properties of something have crossed over to the other.

However, I do question if 'fluid' in the air is correct. Perhaps it means 'moisture'? "Fluid" is another term for 'liquid', which is a state of matter. To be considered "in the air", water has to be in a gas, or vapour state.

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