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A review on measurements of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material in air in outdoor and indoor environments: Implication for airborne transmission

TitleA review on measurements of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material in air in outdoor and indoor environments: Implication for airborne transmission
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsDinoi, A., Feltracco M., Chirizzi D., Trabucco S., Conte M., Gregoris E., Barbaro E., La Bella G., Ciccarese G., Belosi F., La Salandra G., Gambaro A., and Contini D.
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Keywordsaerosol transmission, Aerosols, air sampling, Airborne transmission, contamination, controlled study, COVID-19, Diseases, Genetic materials, Health Care, Hospitals, human, Indoor, Indoor environment, Measurements of, nonhuman, Outdoor, Outdoor environment, Particle size analysis, positivity rate, review, RNA, SARS, SARS-CoV-2 in air, Scientific community, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, systematic review, Transmissions, Viruses

Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has been object of debate in the scientific community since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic. This mechanism of transmission could arise from virus-laden aerosol released by infected individuals and it is influenced by several factors. Among these, the concentration and size distribution of virus-laden particles play an important role. The knowledge regarding aerosol transmission increases as new evidence is collected in different studies, even if it is not yet available a standard protocol regarding air sampling and analysis, which can create difficulties in the interpretation and application of results. This work reports a systematic review of current knowledge gained by 73 published papers on experimental determination of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in air comparing different environments: outdoors, indoor hospitals and healthcare settings, and public community indoors. Selected papers furnished 77 datasets: outdoor studies (9/77, 11.7%) and indoor studies (68/77. 88.3%). The indoor datasets in hospitals were the vast majority (58/68, 85.3%), and the remaining (10/68, 14.7%) were classified as community indoors. The fraction of studies having positive samples, as well as positivity rates (i.e. ratios between positive and total samples) are significantly larger in hospitals compared to the other typologies of sites. Contamination of surfaces was more frequent (in indoor datasets) compared to contamination of air samples; however, the average positivity rate was lower compared to that of air. Concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in air were highly variables and, on average, lower in outdoors compared to indoors. Among indoors, concentrations in community indoors appear to be lower than those in hospitals and healthcare settings. © 2021 Elsevier B.V.


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Citation KeyDinoi2021