It seems even with proper handwashing, social distancing and masks, COVID-19 is still detected in public settings. The airborne virus finds its way through despite measures to prevent the spread indoors. Researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology Letters seem to have developed something that gives people an advantage: a wearable monitor that can assess an individual’s exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

The transmission of COVID-19 is mostly through inhalation of the virus via aerosols and respiratory droplets. Coughing, sneezing, talking and even breathing can expel the virus into the air. Detecting the virus indoors currently involves heavy, expensive equipment that requires electricity. Researchers focused on a cost-effective option that can be worn by an individual without connecting to a power supply.

High-risk workers can evaluate potential exposure

The wearable device has been named the Fresh Air Clip and collects aerosols on a polydimethylsiloxaneFresh Air Clip. Source: ACSFresh Air Clip. Source: ACS (PDMS) pad. After lab testing, researchers distributed 62 of the air samplers to volunteers to wear for five days. Four of the five volunteers worked in a restaurant setting, and the highest viral loads were found in two of the participants who were employed as servers. The data can be used to identify high-risk areas for indoor exposure.

These samplers are not available for public use yet. Funding for the Fresh Air Clip was provided by the National Science Foundation and Rothberg Fund.

To contact the author of this article, email ccooney@globalspec.com