Wearable 'Fresh Air Clip' Detects Airborne COVID

Yale team says device can spot exposure events early
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2022 4:05 PM CST
Researchers Create Wearable COVID Detector
Clips on restaurant workers had the highest level of the virus, researchers say.   (Getty Images/Drazen Zigic)

Yale researchers say they have developed a wearable clip that can detect even low levels of COVID-19 in the air. While the devices don't deliver instant results—there's film inside that needs to be taken out and tested—researchers say they could be a very useful tool for detecting exposure early and for finding areas where better virus control measures are needed, reports USA Today. After the air-sampling devices were given to 62 people in Connecticut who worked in a variety of settings, the virus was detected on clips worn by five participants, researchers say in a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. Four were restaurant workers and one worked in a homeless shelter.

Researchers call the 3D-printed clip, which is about an inch in diameter, the "Fresh Air Clip." With study participants, the film inside was checked after five days, but the Yale team says they could be checked more frequently if necessary. The clip, which can pick up levels of virus well below the average infectious dose, "is intended to help prevent viral spread, which can occur when people do not have this kind of early detection of exposure," creator Krystal Godri Pollitt says in a Yale School of Public Health press release. Godri Pollitt is a professor of epidemiology at YSPH and a professor of chemical and environmental engineering at Yale.

The clips "are easy-to-use, non-invasive, and low-cost," Godri Pollitt says. "These features make it easier to scale-up this kind of exposure monitoring for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses so that the clips can be made available across larger groups of workers in high-risk jobs, such as restaurant servers, health care workers, and teachers." Researchers say more testing needs to be done before the device can be sold commercially, reports Reuters. (More COVID-19 stories.)

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