Journal of Environmental Treatment Techniques  
2021, Volume 9, Issue 2, Pages: 178-182  
J. Environ. Treat. Tech.  
ISSN: 2309-1185  
Journal web link:  
Monitoring of the Environmental Contamination  
and Exposure Risk of COVID-19 in the Medical  
Staff of Coronavirus referral hospitals in Qom,  
Saeed Shams , Rahim Aali , Mehdi. Safa , Yadollah. Ghafuri , Zahra. Atafar  
Cellular and Molecular Research Center, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Qom, Iran  
Research Center for Environmental Pollutants, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Qom, Iran  
Social Development & Health Promotion Research Center, Health Institute, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran  
Received: 14/08/2020  
Accepted: 25/10/2020  
Published: 20/03/2021  
COVID-19 is a new infection that first occurred in China and now is spreading worldwide. The disease is considered to be a serious  
respiratory disease in humans. This study has been designed to assess surface contamination of SARS-CoV-2and exposure risk of the  
disease in the medical staff of two coronavirus referral hospitals of Qom province, which were dedicated to the admission and treatment  
of COVID -19 patients.. This study was carried in two steps including analysis of environmental samples and exposure risk assessment  
of COVID-19. In this study 50 environmental samples were collected from different sites of the hospitals. After extracting RNA, RT-  
PCR was done for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. The results showed that 18% of environmental sites, including elevator buttons (8%),  
doorknobs (6%) and bed rails (4%) were positive. In the risk assessment process based on according to wear of personal protective  
equipment, exposed to high touch surfaces, performing hand hygiene, any accident with biological fluid/respiratory secretions, the results  
indicate that 60.4 %, 68.3%, 28.6% and 20.6% health care personal including medical doctors, nurses and assistant nurses have high  
risk, respectively. In general, implement a plan for monitoring health personnel exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases for respiratory  
illness including environmental surveillance engineering controls and personal protective equipment recommended.  
Keywords: COVID-19; Environment; Risk; Exposure; Hospitals  
contamination of COVID-19 and exposure risk of the disease  
in the medical staff of coronavirus admission hospitals in Qom  
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease  
affected by a new coronavirus. The disease causes flu-like  
respiratory illness with different symptoms such as cough,  
fever, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties, etc. (1, 2).  
In more severe cases, the disease can causes multiple organ  
failures and even death. This virus is the same member of the  
coronavirus family that caused the severe acute respiratory  
syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) reported in China in 2003  
and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)  
reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The initial cases of the  
COVID-19 have been linked to a live seafood market in  
Wuhan, China, December 2019 that was originated from an  
animal source and adapted to other variants as it crossed the  
species barrier to infect humans (3). Following the guidance of  
WHO on infection prevention and control strategies, it is  
important to ensure that environmental cleaning and  
disinfection procedures are consistently and correctly followed.  
Cleaning environmental surfaces with water and detergents and  
applying commonly used hospital-level disinfectants (such as  
sodium hypochlorite) are known as effective and sufficient  
procedures. Medical devices, equipment, laundries, food  
service utensils, and medical wastes should be managed in  
accordance with safe routine procedures (4, 5). This study was  
designed to assess the extent and persistence of surface  
2 Material and Methods  
2.1 Study setting  
The study was planned in Qom, as the first city that  
identified the disease in in the central part of Iran, with about  
1.3 million residents, Two coronavirus referral hospitals of  
Qom, Kamkar and Forghani hospitals, which dedicated to the  
admission and treatment of COVID -19 patients, were included  
in this study. Their location is showed in Figure 1.  
2.2 Collection of environmental samples  
Fifty environmental samples including Ambulance patient  
carrier, Corridor and patient entrance, Admission and Waiting  
room, Patient roomwere collected using sterile swabs with  
synthetic tips and plastic shafts. Each swab was placed into a  
tube containing 2 ml of the viral transport medium (VTM) that  
was labeled and and putted in a self-sealing bag. Then, the  
outside of the sealed bag was disinfected by 5% hypochlorite  
solution. In each sampling round a set of control samples also  
were collected. The first set of control samples were handled in  
the same way as the environmental samples from the  
potentially contaminated area, including opening the package  
Corresponding author: Yadollah. Ghafuri, Research Center for Environmental Pollutants, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Qom,  
Iran. Tel: +98 25 32852740 E-mail: