Development and Evaluation of a New Personal Sampler for Viable Airborne Microorganisms
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The objective of this study was to develop a new personal sampler for viable airborne microorganisms and to evaluate its performance under controlled laboratory conditions and in a field. In the sampler, air is bubbled through a porous medium submerged in a liquid layer, as has earlier been demonstrated to be highly efficient for air purification. The prototype had the physical collection efficiency >95% for particles >0.32 孠in aerodynamic diameter during 8 h of continuous operation. The pressure drop across the sampler was below 1700 Pa, much lower than that of most conventional bioaerosol samplers. The collection liquid losses due to evaporation and aerosolization did not exceed 18% in 8 h and the culturability of sampled microorganisms remained high: the recovery rate of stress-sensitive gram-negative P. fluorescens bacteria was 61Ჰ%; for stress-resistant B. subtilis bacteria and A. versicolor fungal spores it was 95ṥ and 97ᶥ, respectively. Six identical personal samplers were tested simultaneously on a simplified human manikin in an office environment. The culturable microbial concentration data obtained during 2, 4 and 8-h sampling were not affected by the sampling time. Inter-sample variation did not exceed 30%. The laboratory and field evaluations have demonstrated that the new sampler is capable of long-term personal sampling of airborne culturable microorganisms. The estimation of the detection limits has indicated that the sampler is capable of monitoring microbial exposure in the environments with the bacterial concentrations above 15 CFU/m3 and fungal concentrations above 5 CFU/m3 when using a sampling time of 8 h.