Cheap CO2 monitors may reduce COVID-19 risks


Low-cost carbon dioxide monitors in public spaces could help identify areas at higher risk of COVID-19 infection, a new study finds.

The research, led by Flinders University and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, found that the monitors could reveal rooms with poor ventilation, which could contribute to potential “super-spreader” events.

It assessed the risk of airborne transmission in more than 60 areas used by staff and residents of an Adelaide nursing home.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated the devastating consequences of the rapid spread of an airborne virus in residential care for the elderly,” said study co-author Steven Taylor.

“Reassuringly, we found that none of the residential areas turned out to be high risk.

“However, a number of staff areas, including meeting rooms and tea rooms, were flagged as potential transmission zones.”

Once simple measures were taken to improve ventilation in those areas, there was a significantly reduced risk of transmission.

The researchers said nearly all buildings had areas of high risk of airborne transmission of respiratory viruses, but the ability to identify those areas was limited.

They believe that carbon dioxide monitoring is a cheap and underutilized method for quickly and accurately identifying high-risk sites.

The technology can be easily deployed in a variety of environments, including hospitals, schools and retirement homes.


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