• Journal Article

An analytical method for the measurement of nonviable bioaerosols


Menetrez, M. Y., Foarde, K., & Ensor, D. (2001). An analytical method for the measurement of nonviable bioaerosols. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 51(10), 1436-1442.


Exposures from indoor environments are a major issue for evaluating total long-term personal exposures to the fine fraction (<2.5 microm in aerodynamic diameter) of particulate matter (PM). It is widely accepted in the indoor air quality (IAQ) research community that biocontamination is one of the important indoor air pollutants. Major indoor air biocontaminants include mold, bacteria, dust mites, and other antigens. Once the biocontaminants or their metabolites become airborne, IAQ could be significantly deteriorated. The airborne biocontaminants or their metabolites can induce irritational, allergic, infectious, and chemical responses in exposed individuals. Biocontaminants, such as some mold spores or pollen grains, because of their size and mass, settle rapidly within the indoor environment. Over time they may become nonviable and fragmented by the process of desiccation. Desiccated nonviable fragments of organisms are common and can be toxic or allergenic, depending upon the specific organism or organism component. Once these smaller and lighter fragments of biological PM become suspended in air, they have a greater tendency to stay suspended. Although some bioaerosols have been identified, few have been quantitatively studied for their prevalence within the total indoor PM with time, or for their affinity to penetrate indoors. This paper describes a preliminary research effort to develop a methodology for the measurement of nonviable biologically based PM, analyzing for mold and ragweed antigens and endotoxins. The research objectives include the development of a set of analytical methods and the comparison of impactor media and sample size, and the quantification of the relationship between outdoor and indoor levels of bioaerosols. Indoor and outdoor air samples were passed through an Andersen nonviable cascade impactor in which particles from 0.2 to 9.0 microm were collected and analyzed. The presence of mold, ragweed, and endotoxin was found in all eight size ranges. The presence of respirable particles of mold and pollen found in the fine particle size range from 0.2 to 5.25 microm is evidence of fragmentation of larger source particles that are known allergens