Portable air counter to assess SARS-CoV-2 exposure


Researchers at Yale University created an air sampling clip that can be worn on clothing and can bind aerosols present in the environment. The clip can be analyzed later to determine the level of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 while wearing it. Low-cost, battery-free technology could allow people to identify unsafe indoor environments that may require additional security measures. While the design does not allow for real-time viral tracking, its low cost and ease of use could make it an easy way to improve viral security in workplaces and healthcare facilities.

As we learn to live with SARS-CoV-2, our tactics for dealing with it have changed. In the early days of the pandemic, when vaccines were not available, many countries opted for severe blockages and movement restrictions along with basic health practices, such as hand washing. Now, with the rise of the less serious but more transmissible Omicron variant, vaccine coverage, rapid testing, and the use of masks have come to the fore.

Part of this effort is to make indoor environments safer against VOCID. Increased air movement and ventilation could help reduce the build-up of virus-laden aerosols, and in the future, more advanced solutions, such as air filters for decontamination, could be usual.

Identifying where the virus tends to accumulate inside is also key to reducing transmission and modifying indoor spaces to make them as safe as possible. One method is to take active air samples to detect viral particles. However, active air sampling is usually large, expensive, and requires a power supply. These researchers have created a low-cost passive alternative that can be worn on clothing throughout the day and then analyzed by PCR to determine the user’s personal exposure levels.

Researchers have named its device Fresh Air Clip and it consists of a surface of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) that can continuously bind virus-laden aerosols throughout the day. So far, researchers have tested the device inside a machine that generates aerosols similar to those that occur when people talk, cough, sneeze or sing. The aerosols contained a substitute virus that is much safer to work with than SARS-CoV-2, and the researchers were able to successfully detect the virus in the clips by PCR.

Finally, a group of 62 volunteers tested the clips “in the wild” and took them for 5 days while doing their usual business. Researchers later detected SARS-CoV-2 in five clips, four of which were carried by restaurant servers, highlighting the high levels of viral exposure of people working in the service industry.

Study a Environmental Science and Technology Charts: Development and application of passive air sampling based on polydimethylsiloxane to assess personal exposure to SARS-CoV-2

Via: Yale

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