Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Environmental and Occupational Health

First Committee Member

Mark P. Buttner

Second Committee Member

Patricia Cruz

Third Committee Member

Brian Labus

Fourth Committee Member

Barbara St. Pierre Schneider

Number of Pages



Contaminated surfaces and airborne spread are found to be among the main ways of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) transmission. Studies conducted in the hospital setting have shown that SARS-CoV-2 is found on frequently touched surfaces, personal protective equipment, and in air samples of patient isolation rooms. However, few environmental sampling studies have been done in public areas. Taking in consideration that COVID-19 cases may be symptomatic, presymptomatic, and asymptomatic, environmental monitoring may be essential for prompt detection of the virus. The objective of this study was to determine whether SARS-CoV-2 can be detected on environmental surfaces and from air samples in public areas in Las Vegas. In total, 300 surface samples were collected from high-touch surfaces from public areas and a public health facility (PHF) in Las Vegas. In addition, 18 air samples were collected from public areas, a PHF, and COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites. Environmental samples were analyzed with reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using SARS-CoV-2 specific primers and probes. Results showed that 58 out of 300 (19.3%) surface environmental samples tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, 45 at the PHF and 13 in public areas. Concentrations ranged from 10^2 to 10^6 viral particles per sample. Materials that tested positive were plastic, stainless steel, rubber, metal, vinyl, ceramic, artificial leather, glass, wood, and paper. No air sample tested positive. Moreover, results showed that the N gene assay had greater sensitivity to detect SARS-CoV-2 compared to the S and ORF gene assays. Besides frequently touched surfaces, SARS-CoV-2 was detected from floors, shoes, mop water, surfaces in contact with the floor, and floor areas around toilets. Restroom surfaces were frequent SARS-CoV-2 contamination locations. These results indicate surfaces and areas where SARS-CoV-2 may be detected, and the extent and distribution of environmental contamination. Future research should focus on determining the infectivity of the virus in the environment and its potential to cause infection.

Controlled Subject

COVID-19; air quality; environmental science; Nevada--Las Vegas; public health


Public Health

File Format


File Size

920 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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