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Wearable Air Sampler Measures Personal COVID Virus Exposure

A wearable air sampler clip can monitor personal exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Credit: Adapted from Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.1c00877

Masks, social distancing, proper hygiene, and ventilation can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19First identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It has spread globally, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.”>COVID-19 in public places, but even with these measures, scientists have detected airborne SARS-CoV-2Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the official name of the virus strain that causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Previous to this name being adopted, it was commonly referred to as the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), the Wuhan coronavirus, or the Wuhan virus.”>SARS-CoV-2 in indoor settings. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology Letters have developed a passive air sampler clip that can help assess personal exposure to SARS-CoV-2, which could be especially helpful for workers in high-risk settings, such as restaurants or health care facilities.

COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through the inhalation of virus-laden aerosols and respiratory droplets that infected individuals expel by coughing, sneezing, speaking, or breathing. Researchers have used active air sampling devices to detect airborne SARS-CoV-2 in indoor settings; however, these monitors are typically large, expensive, non-portable, and require electricity. To better understand personal exposures to the virus, Krystal Pollitt and colleagues wanted to develop a small, lightweight, inexpensive, and wearable device that doesn’t require a power source.

The researchers developed a wearable passive air sampler, known as the Fresh Air Clip, that continually adsorbs virus-laden aerosols on a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) surface. The team tested the air sampler in a rotating drum in which they generated aerosols containing a surrogate virus, a bacteriophage with similar properties to SARS-CoV-2. They detected virus on the PDMS sampler using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), showing that the device could be used to reliably estimate airborne virus concentrations. Then, the researchers distributed Fresh Air Clips to 62 volunteers, who wore the monitors for five days. PCR analysis of the clips detected SARS-CoV-2 RNARibonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymeric molecule similar to DNA that is essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes. Both are nucleic acids, but unlike DNA, RNA is single-stranded. An RNA strand has a backbone made of alternating sugar (ribose) and phosphate groups. Attached to each sugar is one of four bases—adenine (A), uracil (U), cytosine (C), or guanine (G). Different types of RNA exist in the cell: messenger RNA (mRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and transfer RNA (tRNA).”>RNA in five of the clips: Four were worn by restaurant servers and one by a homeless shelter staff person. The highest viral loads (more than 100 RNA copies per clip) were detected in two badges from restaurant servers. Although the Fresh Air Clip has not yet been commercialized, these results indicate that it could serve as a semiquantitative screening tool for assessing personal exposure to SARS-CoV-2, as well as help identify high-risk areas for indoor exposure, the researchers say.

Reference: “Development and Application of a Polydimethylsiloxane-Based Passive Air Sampler to Assess Personal Exposure to SARS-CoV-2” by Darryl M. Angel, Dong Gao, Kayley DeLay, Elizabeth Z. Lin, Jacob Eldred, Wyatt Arnold, Romero Santiago, Carrie Redlich, Richard A. Martinello, Jodi D. Sherman, Jordan Peccia, and Krystal J. Godri Pollitt, 11 January 2022, Environmental Science & Technology Letters.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.1c00877

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Science Foundation and the Rothberg Fund.

Source: SciTechDaily