Real time detectionof airborne fungal spores and investigations into their dynamics in indoor air

Kanaani, Hussein (2009) Real time detectionof airborne fungal spores and investigations into their dynamics in indoor air. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Concern regarding the health effects of indoor air quality has grown in recent years, due to the increased prevalence of many diseases, as well as the fact that many people now spend most of their time indoors. While numerous studies have reported on the dynamics of aerosols indoors, the dynamics of bioaerosols in indoor environments are still poorly understood and very few studies have focused on fungal spore dynamics in indoor environments. Consequently, this work investigated the dynamics of fungal spores in indoor air, including fungal spore release and deposition, as well as investigating the mechanisms involved in the fungal spore fragmentation process. In relation to the investigation of fungal spore dynamics, it was found that the deposition rates of the bioaerosols (fungal propagules) were in the same range as the deposition rates of nonbiological particles and that they were a function of their aerodynamic diameters. It was also found that fungal particle deposition rates increased with increasing ventilation rates. These results (which are reported for the first time) are important for developing an understanding of the dynamics of fungal spores in the air. In relation to the process of fungal spore fragmentation, important information was generated concerning the airborne dynamics of the spores, as well as the part/s of the fungi which undergo fragmentation. The results obtained from these investigations into the dynamics of fungal propagules in indoor air significantly advance knowledge about the fate of fungal propagules in indoor air, as well as their deposition in the respiratory tract. The need to develop an advanced, real-time method for monitoring bioaerosols has become increasingly important in recent years, particularly as a result of the increased threat from biological weapons and bioterrorism. However, to date, the Ultraviolet Aerodynamic Particle Sizer (UVAPS, Model 3312, TSI, St Paul, MN) is the only commercially available instrument capable of monitoring and measuring viable airborne micro-organisms in real-time. Therefore (for the first time), this work also investigated the ability of the UVAPS to measure and characterise fungal spores in indoor air. The UVAPS was found to be sufficiently sensitive for detecting and measuring fungal propagules. Based on fungal spore size distributions, together with fluorescent percentages and intensities, it was also found to be capable of discriminating between two fungal spore species, under controlled laboratory conditions. In the field, however, it would not be possible to use the UVAPS to differentiate between different fungal spore species because the different micro-organisms present in the air may not only vary in age, but may have also been subjected to different environmental conditions. In addition, while the real-time UVAPS was found to be a good tool for the investigation of fungal particles under controlled conditions, it was not found to be selective for bioaerosols only (as per design specifications). In conclusion, the UVAPS is not recommended for use in the direct measurement of airborne viable bioaerosols in the field, including fungal particles, and further investigations into the nature of the micro-organisms, the UVAPS itself and/or its use in conjunction with other conventional biosamplers, are necessary in order to obtain more realistic results. Overall, the results obtained from this work on airborne fungal particle dynamics will contribute towards improving the detection capabilities of the UVAPS, so that it is capable of selectively monitoring and measuring bioaerosols, for which it was originally designed. This work will assist in finding and/or improving other technologies capable of the real-time monitoring of bioaerosols. The knowledge obtained from this work will also be of benefit in various other bioaerosol applications, such as understanding the transport of bioaerosols indoors.

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ID Code: 30350
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Morawska, Lidia, Ayoko, Godwin, Hargreaves, Megan, & Ristovski, Zoran
Keywords: fungal spores, real-time monitoring, counting efficiency, spore release, air flow rate, culturing time, fluorescent percentage, spore size, fragments, air velocity, deposition rate, air exchange rates (AER), fungal particles, ventilation rate
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 10 Feb 2010 04:31
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:55

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