August 12, 2021

Mining Program Research to Address COVID-19 Transmission in Various Industries

NIOSH recently highlighted two research projects being conducted by its mining program that are aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. One project is focused on using mobile tools for contact tracing, and the other is exploring targeted ventilation.

The first project, “Evaluation of Mobile Applications for Digital Contact Tracing,” will develop guidelines for the design, implementation, and evaluation of mobile contact tracing applications used in occupational settings and investigate human factors that influence adoption of these tools. This project is intended to identify performance requirements for digital contract tracing applications, quantify the performance of representative applications in laboratory and occupational settings, and identify workers’ perceptions affecting adoption of this technology.

In the second project, “Point-of-Use Ventilation Systems to Prevent Exposure to Airborne Viruses,” researchers will develop and test the effectiveness of various ventilation systems in combination with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters for protection against airborne viral particles. The project will test three types of ventilation systems: a push (blowing plenum) system, a pull (exhausting hood) system, and a push-pull (both exhausting and blowing hoods) system. These systems provide ventilation at workers’ locations—an approach referred to as “point-of-use”—instead of relying only on a building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. Each ventilation system will be tested in both laboratory and occupational settings.

Although these projects are being conducted by the NIOSH Mining Program, the anticipated findings may be relevant to workers in food manufacturing and processing, grocery stores, and long-term care facilities as well as those who work as cashiers in various industries. More information on this research can be found via NIOSH’s website.