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Hand-Held Particle Detector Measures Aerosols for Coronavirus Risk Assessment

A plot exhibiting how a lot the aerosol from a sneeze spreads in every path. Credit score: Daniel Bonn, College of Amsterdam

A conveyable gadget can decide aerosol concentrations in public areas.

Due to the position they play in coronavirus transmission, understanding aerosol concentrations and persistence in public areas may also help decide an infection dangers. Nevertheless, measuring these concentrations is troublesome, requiring specialised personnel and gear.

That’s, till now.

Researchers from the Cardiology Facilities of the Netherlands and the College of Amsterdam reveal {that a} industrial hand-held particle counter can be utilized for this objective and assist decide the impacts of risk-reducing measures, like air flow enhancements. They describe the fast and simple, transportable course of within the journal Physics of Fluids, from AIP Publishing.

The important thing problem with utilizing hand-held particle counters is coping with the background mud prevalent in public areas. The query then turns into, are you able to distinguish these mud particles from aerosols that come up from respiration, talking, sneezing, and coughing?

As a result of mud and aerosols inhaled into human lungs differ in dimension, the researchers developed a approach to subtract the mud sign within the particle counter by measuring the mud for a while, and watching how the sign adjustments after aerosols are added to the combo.

“There’s a variety of high-quality mud, so we are able to’t actually measure aerosols in that vary, however there’s an affordable sized vary the place you possibly can detect the aerosols,” mentioned Daniel Bonn, one of many authors.

They in contrast the aerosol focus decided by this technique to laboratory-based strategies and located the outcomes match up completely. Although this work experiences on one particular hand-held particle counter — the Fluke 985, which is used to observe the mud and air high quality in clear rooms — Bonn famous the outcomes aren’t distinctive to this gadget and might be prolonged to different particle counters as effectively.

Although the strategy doesn’t straight measure the presence of viral particles, the detected aerosol focus might be mixed with virus knowledge from different research to acquire a sensible danger evaluation for a particular sort of public house. The findings recommend well-ventilated areas can have aerosol concentrations greater than 100 instances decrease than poorly ventilated areas, similar to public elevators or restrooms.

“There are folks anxious about going to the fitness center, coming to the workplace, taking the practice. All that may at the very least be evaluated,” Bonn mentioned. “The motto stays air flow, air flow, air flow.”

He mentioned whereas air flow performs a big position in indoor areas, aerosols aren’t the one path to an infection, and social distancing and hand-washing stay important.

Reference: “Measurement of small droplet aerosol concentrations in public areas utilizing handheld particle counters” by G. Aernout Somsen, Cees J. M. van Rijn, Stefan Kooij, Reinout A. Bem and Daniel Bonn, 22 December 2020, Physics of Fluids.
DOI: 10.1063/5.0035701

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