Imagine knowing if the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, or other in-air pathogens, were detected in your workspace. That game-changing technology is here and it’s helping businesses return to work.
The AerosolSense™ Sampler by Thermo Fisher Scientific is a new pathogen surveillance solution designed to deliver timely and highly reliable insight into the presence of in-air pathogens. It’s already in use across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Recently to help ensure a safer re-opening, the sampler was used at a stadium in Belgium for supporting early in-air pathogen identification and contact tracing efforts.
Originally developed with the U.S. Government to detect biologic agents such as Anthrax, the company worked with the University of Oregon to further validate the solution for Flu A/B, RSV B and SARS-CoV-2 by testing the sampler in controlled laboratory and real-life hospital settings.
The sampler collects aerosol samples of ambient air and traps in-air pathogens on a collection substrate. Safely secured within a sampling cartridge, the collection substrate is sent to a testing laboratory for gold-standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis. Customers have the option to use a Thermo Fisher Scientific testing laboratory partner to receive results in 24 hours or less, or if available perform their own analysis at an onsite testing laboratory for results in four hours or less.
The sampler’s light weight of 26 pounds makes it portable enabling users to move it to different environments. The company advises placing it in high-traffic, high-transmission risk areas, like waiting rooms and employee break rooms. It takes at least two hours for adequate air sampling.
John Lesica, president of the Chemical Analysis Division for Thermo Fisher Scientific, is optimistic that as the vaccines roll out and COVID-19 cases drop, more people will be comfortable going back into social and professional settings. Still, there’s anxiety about safety.
“Having robust safety protocols along with environmental surveillance solutions is going to help address that anxiety and help ensure we can reopen in a safe manner,” says Lesica.
The Sandwich Fire Department in Sandwich, Massachusetts has been using the AerosolSense Sampler since fall of 2020. It was especially valuable during the peak of the pandemic when first responders were transporting COVID-19 patients throughout each day.
These days, it’s being used for surveillance.
“If the machine ends up catching something with a positive hit, we can reinstate some measures if needed, but we can also immediately test individuals and see if we can rapidly identify and isolate where it came from,” says fire chief John J. Burke.
Environmental and occupational surveillance with air sampling complements the insight you already gain from individual testing, enabling you to better assess the safety of air quality within facilities for communities.
The sampler identified SARS-CoV-2 at Chief Burke’s department between December 30 to January 1. When Chief Burke checked the air sample test results for that time period, the results were positive for two days; therefore, indicating the presence of SARS-CoV-2. Consequently, the fire department had all employees working those two days rapid tested for seven days. Through those efforts they were able to identify an individual who tested positive and had been working in the facility maskless during the time the positive air samples were collected.
Chief Burke and the Sandwich Fire Department are grateful for this technology.
“It gave them the peace of mind that the equipment’s working, the masking is working, and the testing program that we had was working,” he says. “Overall, it’s very successful.”
Data has shown how quickly in-air viruses can spread. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends increasing ventilation with outdoor air and air filtration, in addition to other precautions against COVID-19, including surface cleaning, handwashing, social distancing, and wearing face coverings or masks.
“Similar to how a carbon monoxide detector can help detect an invisibly, deadly threat, the AerosolSense solution can help identify the presence of invisible, harmful in-air pathogens.”
As more businesses, schools, and organizations re-open, additional measures will be in place, such as individual COVID-19 testing. The AerosolSense Sampler is a complementary next step.
“This is going to be the new normal and having a surveillance solution that helps you monitor your risk processes, and helps you shore up your overall safety approach, I think it’s going to be really important for businesses,” says Lesica, who calls it a scalable solution because of it’s easy-to-use design.
To learn more about the AerosolSense Sampler, visit www.thermofisher.com/aps.