Project

'COVAIR': Is SARS-CoV-2 airborne and does it interact with particle pollutants?

Goal: Aerosol dispersion and environmental spread of SARS-CoV2 virus apart from direct inhalation of large droplets from a cough or exhaled breath of an infected person remains a high possibility. SARS-CoV2 virus has been collected from the air of hospitals with COVID-19 patients and the presence of the virus on particulate matter has been reported in Northern Italy. We wish to develop diagnostic tools and predictive sensing to detect SARS-CoV2 in crowded urban environments in order to address whether the airborne amounts are high enough to cause a respiratory infection and whether pollution particles can carry live virus that is directly inhaled into the lungs. We will determine whether SARS-CoV2 can be detected as active virus in the air of hospitals with COVID-19 patients, and if so, use a similar technique to measure the virus in crowded spaces such as in underground train platforms, central station concourse, shopping malls and busy roadside. We will use and validate different methods of collecting particles from experience obtained from our EPSRC-funded INHALE project. Particles will be collected onto filters, and virus and virus-particulate interactions determined by RT-PCR (RNA-based), culturing on Vero E6 cells and airway epithelial cells, and using state-of-the -art electron microscopy. We will model this mode of transmission into the lungs by studying airflows and pollutant levels, and as a measure of this infection in the population. This method can be potentially considered as a surveillance assay of crowded public areas for SARS-CoV2 with ~ 2,000 new infections currently reported daily.

Funded by the EPSRC under the Covid-19 call
Project ID: EP/V052462/1

Date: 1 January 2021 - 31 December 2021

Updates
0 new
1
Recommendations
0 new
2
Followers
0 new
11
Reads
1 new
152

Project log

Prashant Kumar
added a research item
A link between outdoor pollution of particulate matter (PM) and the mortality from COVID-19 disease has been reported. The potential interaction of SARS-CoV2 emitted from an infected subject in the form of droplets or as an aerosol with PM[Formula: see text] (PM of 2.5 [Formula: see text]m or less in aerodynamic diameter) may modulate SARS-CoV2 replication and infectivity. This may represent an important airborne route of transmission, which could lead to pneumonia and a poor outcome from COVID-19. Further studies are needed to assess the potential infectivity and severity of such transmission.
Prashant Kumar
added an update
As the country prepares to live in a post-Covid-19 world and car travel – including taxi and car-sharing services that mix households – returns to normal, new research from the University of Surrey has confirmed that keeping car windows open to draw in fresh air is key to reducing the risk of contracting the virus in-vehicle environments – but there are trade-offs.
Read full details here:
News coverage:
Head Topics Canada 29/08/2021 Air Pollution | Windows up or down? Sharing a vehicle amid COVID - Car (headtopics.com)
 
Prashant Kumar
added a research item
We examined the trade-offs between in-car aerosol concentrations, ventilation and respiratory infection transmission under three ventilation settings: windows open (WO); windows closed with air-conditioning on ambient air mode (WC-AA); and windows closed with air-conditioning on recirculation (WC-RC). Forty-five runs, covering a total of 324 km distance on a 7.2-km looped route, were carried out three times a day (morning, afternoon, evening) to monitor aerosols (PM2.5; particulate matter WC-AA > WC-RC) due to the ingress of polluted outdoor air on urban routes. A clear trade-off, therefore, exists for the in-car air quality (icAQ) versus ventilation; for example, WC-RC showed the least aerosol concentrations (i.e. four-times lower compared with WO), but corresponded to elevated CO2 levels (i.e. five-times higher compared with WO) in 20 mins. We considered COVID-19 as an example of respiratory infection transmission. The probability of its transmission from an infected occupant in a five-seater car was estimated during different quanta generation rates (2–60.5 quanta hr-1) using the Wells-Riley model. In WO, the probability with 50%-efficient and without facemasks under normal speaking (9.4 quanta hr-1) varied only by upto 0.5%. It increased by 2-fold in WC-AA (
Prashant Kumar
added a research item
We designed a novel experimental set-up to pseudo-simultaneous measure size-segregated filtration efficiency (ηF), breathing resistance (ηP) and potential usage time (tB) for 11 types of face protective equipment (FPE; four respirators; three medical; and four handmade) in the submicron range. As expected, the highest ηF was exhibited by respirators (97±3%), followed by medical (81±7%) and handmade (47±13%). Similarly, the breathing resistance was highest for respirators, followed by medical and handmade FPE. Combined analysis of efficiency and breathing resistance highlighted trade-offs, i.e. respirators showing the best overall performance across these two indicators, followed by medical and handmade FPE. This hierarchy was also confirmed by quality factor, which is a performance indicator of filters. Detailed assessment of size-segregated aerosols, combined with the scanning electron microscope imaging, revealed material characteristics such as pore density, fiber thickness, filter material and number of layers influence their performance. ηF and ηP showed an inverse exponential decay with time. Using their cross-over point, in combination with acceptable breathability, allowed to estimate tB as 3.2-9.5 hours (respirators), 2.6-7.3 hours (medical masks) and 4.0-8.8 hours (handmade). While relatively longer tB of handmade FPE indicate breathing comfort, they are far less efficient in filtering virus-laden submicron aerosols compared with respirators.
Prashant Kumar
added a project goal
Aerosol dispersion and environmental spread of SARS-CoV2 virus apart from direct inhalation of large droplets from a cough or exhaled breath of an infected person remains a high possibility. SARS-CoV2 virus has been collected from the air of hospitals with COVID-19 patients and the presence of the virus on particulate matter has been reported in Northern Italy. We wish to develop diagnostic tools and predictive sensing to detect SARS-CoV2 in crowded urban environments in order to address whether the airborne amounts are high enough to cause a respiratory infection and whether pollution particles can carry live virus that is directly inhaled into the lungs. We will determine whether SARS-CoV2 can be detected as active virus in the air of hospitals with COVID-19 patients, and if so, use a similar technique to measure the virus in crowded spaces such as in underground train platforms, central station concourse, shopping malls and busy roadside. We will use and validate different methods of collecting particles from experience obtained from our EPSRC-funded INHALE project. Particles will be collected onto filters, and virus and virus-particulate interactions determined by RT-PCR (RNA-based), culturing on Vero E6 cells and airway epithelial cells, and using state-of-the -art electron microscopy. We will model this mode of transmission into the lungs by studying airflows and pollutant levels, and as a measure of this infection in the population. This method can be potentially considered as a surveillance assay of crowded public areas for SARS-CoV2 with ~ 2,000 new infections currently reported daily.
Funded by the EPSRC under the Covid-19 call
Project ID: EP/V052462/1