Detecting SARS-CoV-2 From Dorm HVAC System Using PCR
Boatman, Marina Nichole; Johansen, Lauren Grace
This item will be available on: 2024-05-01
As universities became more acclimated to the hardships of COVID-19, East Carolina University began to search for other preventative detection methods as the campus reopened for students. We implemented air sampling of the HVAC systems in campus dorms to determine if SARS-CoV-2 could be detected. We present findings here from the fall 2021 semester. Two large dormitories were tested during the four-month sampling period. Each dorm contained one button air sampler that measured over a 24-hour period before collection. In one of the experimental dorms, the AerosolSense sampler was deployed for 5 weeks before being transferred to the isolation dorm suite, containing students with confirmed COVID-19. The known COVID positive dorm was sampled using four different methods: Button Sampler, Filter Cassette, BioSampler, and AerosolSense sampler, with sampling times ranging from 30 minutes to 24-hours. We developed protocols for stabilizing and extracting the RNA and performed qRT-PCR analysis to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In the two large experimental dorms, we detected 12 positives, 10 using Button Samplers out of 58 samples and 2 using the AerosolSense Sampler out of 10 samples. In the COVID isolation dorm, we detected 22 positive samples out of 137 samples. Of the 22 samples, 11 were retrieved from Button Samplers out of 74 samples, 4 from Filter Cassettes out of 25 samples, 6 from the BioSampler out of 25 samples, and 1 from the AerosolSense Sampler out of 11 samples. Out of 203 samples collected over the semester, 34 (16.7%) were positive for SARS-CoV-2 by qRT-PCR testing, however there were no confirmed COVID cases on many of those days so we would expect no detection. We have demonstrated that it is possible to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus using air samplers in HVAC systems of shared living spaces, such as dormitories. However, we do not know the lower limit of detection. Further work will be needed to determine how virus detection in the air relates to disease transmission.
Boatman, Marina Nichole, & Johansen, Lauren Grace. (June 2022). Detecting SARS-CoV-2 From Dorm HVAC System Using PCR (Honors Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/11009.)
Boatman, Marina Nichole, and Johansen, Lauren Grace. Detecting SARS-CoV-2 From Dorm HVAC System Using PCR. Honors Thesis. East Carolina University, June 2022. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/11009. December 10, 2023.
Boatman, Marina Nichole and Johansen, Lauren Grace, “Detecting SARS-CoV-2 From Dorm HVAC System Using PCR” (Honors Thesis., East Carolina University, June 2022).
Boatman, Marina Nichole, Johansen, Lauren Grace. Detecting SARS-CoV-2 From Dorm HVAC System Using PCR [Honors Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; June 2022.
East Carolina University