Streamlined NIST Tool Could Help Homeowners, Renters Reduce Airborne Exposure to COVID

Streamlined NIST Tool Could Help Homeowners, Renters Reduce Airborne Exposure to COVID

A new web tool developed by NIST could help homeowners leverage factors such as ventilation and air filters to reduce the number of potentially infectious aerosols lingering in the air. This animation depicts how different measures could be combined to make an impact, although the order in which they are applied is arbitrary.

Credit: B. Hayes/NIST

COVID-19 is still circulating in the U.S. and may once again gain traction as families and friends gather indoors over the holidays. There are several measures that, combined with vaccination, could curtail a new wave of infections. One often-overlooked approach for homes is managing air flow and air cleaning.

Leveraging ventilation and filtration has been an underutilized strategy for many residents throughout the pandemic because of the technical know-how required to implement these strategies. To help more people use this approach effectively, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a simple interactive webpage featuring the new Virus Particle Exposure in Residences (ViPER) tool. With ViPER — and some basic knowledge about their homes — homeowners and renters can learn how much certain actions, such as upgrading air filters or opening a window, may lower their risk of exposure to particles in the air that could potentially transmit COVID-19. 

ViPER is based on an earlier tool developed in 2020 by NIST researchers with expertise in creating airflow and containment transport models. Called Fate and Transport of Indoor Microbiological Aerosols (FaTIMA), the web-based program estimates the concentration of exhaled aerosols — a collection of liquid and solids floating in the air, also often referred to as p ..

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