In the News: Dust Collected from Campus Buildings Will Help Track COVID-19

Facilities Operations and Development custodial staff is helping Ohio State researchers collect dust during daily cleaning from 50 buildings on campus this fall. The researchers use the dust to monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 and track the virus’s variants. The analyses and experiments are designed to help the university understand where COVID-19 pockets might exist as the campus opens to near-pre-pandemic levels this fall.

The study is built on previous research that showed that RNA — part of the genetic material from inside the COVID-19 virus — can persist up to a month in dust. For that study, researchers collected dust from residence hall rooms on campus that housed students known to be infected with COVID-19.

Additional research showed viruses do not remain infectious in dust, leaving only the genetic material behind. Analyzing that genetic material offers a noninvasive, low-cost way of monitoring for COVID-19.

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