A possible early “indicator” of future relapses of the Covid-19 epidemic. A study carried out by Sima researchers at the Universities of Bari, Bologna and Trieste and the University of Naples “Federico II”.
Just over a month after the publication of a Position Paper on “Evaluating the potential relationship between particulate pollution and the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic”, the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine (Sima) has announced that the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus has been found on particulate (pm).
Professor Alessandro Miani, president of Sima, reveals how “This initial evidence opens up the possibility to testing over the next few months, as an indicator for the early detection of the reappearance of the coronavirus, so that suitable preventive measures can be adopted before the start of a new epidemic.
“The first part of this study was explicitly focused on searching for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA on particulate matter (PM). The earliest findings regarding the presence of the coronavirus on particulate matter have emerged from tests carried out on 34 PM10 samples in the environmental area of industrial sites located in the Bergamo province, collected using two different air samplers over a continuous 3 week period, from 21st February to 13th March”, explains Leonardo Setti, joint coordinator of the scientific research group, together with Gianluigi De Gennaro and Miani.
“Samples were analysed by the University of Trieste in collaboration with the laboratories of the Giuliano Isontino hospital, verifying the presence of the virus on at least 8 out of the 22 days examined. Positive results were confirmed on 12 different samples for all three molecular markers: the E gene, N gene and RdRP gene, the latter being highly specific for the presence of SARS-CoC-2 viral RNA. We can confirm to have reasonably demonstrated the presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA on particulate matter (PM), with the detection of highly specific genes, used as molecular markers of the virus, in two parallel genetic analyses”, Setti specifies.
According to De Gennaro, “these are the earliest findings as to how SARS-CoV-2 RNA may be present on particulate matter in environmental air, suggesting that in conditions of atmospheric stability and high PM concentrations, infected micro-droplets containing the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus can stabilise on particles, creating clusters with particulate matter, thus increasing the persistence of the virus in the atmosphere, as already hypothesized on the basis of recent international studies. The identification of the virus on dust particles may also be a good marker for
verifying its spread in indoor environments, such as at manufacturing companies.
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