Title: Environmental Surveillance and Transmission Risk Assessments for SARS-CoV-2 in a Fitness Center.
Authors: Li, Hongwan; Shankar, Sripriya Nannu; Witanachchi, Chiran T; Lednicky, John A; Loeb, Julia C; Alam, Md Mahbubul; Fan, Z Hugh; Mohamed, Karim; Eiguren-Fernandez, Arantzazu; Wu, Chang-Yu
Published In Aerosol Air Qual Res, (2021 Nov)
Abstract: Fitness centers are considered high risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission due to their high human occupancy and the type of activity taking place in them, especially when individuals pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic for COVID-19 exercise in the facilities. In this study, air (N=21) and surface (N=8) samples were collected at a fitness center through five sampling events from August to November 2020 after the reopening restrictions were lifted in Florida. The total attendance was ~2500 patrons during our air and environmental sampling work. Air samples were collected using stationary and personal bioaerosol samplers. Moistened flocked nylon swabs were used to collect samples from high-touch surfaces. We did not detect SARS-CoV-2 by rRT-PCR analyses in any air or surface sample. A simplified infection risk model based on the Wells-Riley equation predicts that the probability of infection in this fitness center was 1.77% following its ventilation system upgrades based on CDC guidelines, and that risk was further reduced to 0.89% when patrons used face masks. Our model also predicts that a combination of high ventilation, minimal air recirculation, air filtration, and UV sterilization of recirculated air reduced the infection risk up to 94% compared to poorly ventilated facilities. Amongst these measures, high ventilation with outdoor air is most critical in reducing the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. For buildings that cannot avoid air recirculation due to energy costs, the use of high filtration and/or air disinfection devices are alternatives to reducing the probability of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 through inhalation exposure. In contrast to the perceived ranking of high risk, the infection risk in fitness centers that follow CDC reopening guidance, including implementation of engineering and administrative controls, and use of personal protective equipment, can be low, and these facilities can offer a relatively safe venue for patrons to exercise.
PubMed ID: 35047025
MeSH Terms: No MeSH terms associated with this publication