Coronavirus RNA can linger in room dust for up to a month

The virus’s RNA, which is part of the genetic material of a virus, can persist for up to a month in dust, according to a study conducted in rooms where COVID-19 patients have been isolated.

The study did not assess whether dust could transmit the virus to humans. However, this could offer another option for monitoring COVID-19 outbreaks in specific buildings.

Way of monitoring buildings

For this study, the research team worked with crews tasked with cleaning rooms in the state of Ohio, where students who tested positive for COVID-19 have been isolated.

The study, published in the journal mSystems, found that some of the genetic material at the heart of the virus persists in dust, even though the envelope around the virus is likely to break down sooner.

They found genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, in 97% of the dust samples.

The study offers another non-invasive avenue to monitor buildings for COVID-19 outbreaks, especially as more people are getting vaccinated and returning to common areas.

Dust monitoring could therefore offer a similar insight to that of the analysis of a city’s wastewater.

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