Experimental clip-on device finds virus particles in air

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A small experimental device designed to be attached to clothing may be able to tell whether the wearer has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 particles in the air, researchers said.

The device, called the Fresh Air Clip, continually collects airborne aerosols, including droplets carrying the virus, on a silicone surface, according to a report published on this week in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

After testing the device in laboratory experiments, the researchers distributed them to 62 volunteers who each wore the monitors for five days. PCR analysis detected the coronavirus in five of the clips, four of which had been worn by restaurant servers and one by a staff person at a homeless shelter.

More research is needed to confirm its effectiveness before the device can be sold commercially, the researchers noted. But it could prove useful in “real-world high-risk settings,” helping to improve early detection of potential cases and to identify indoor areas that pose high exposure risks.

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