The microbial content of vacuum cleaner bag dust and emitted bioaerosols : implications for human exposures indoors
Veillette, Marc, Knibbs, Luke D., Pelletier, Ariane, Charlebois, Remi, Lecours, Pascale Blais, He, Congrong, Morawska, Lidia, & Duchaine, Caroline (2013) The microbial content of vacuum cleaner bag dust and emitted bioaerosols : implications for human exposures indoors. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 79(20), pp. 6331-6336.
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Vacuum cleaners can release large concentrations of particles, both in their exhaust air and from resuspension of settled dust. However, the size, variability and microbial diversity of these emissions are unknown, despite evidence to suggest they may contribute to allergic responses and infection transmission indoors. This study aimed to evaluate bioaerosol emission from various vacuum cleaners. We sampled the air in an experimental flow tunnel where vacuum cleaners were run and their airborne emissions sampled with closed-face cassettes. Dust samples were also 35 collected from the dust bag. Total bacteria, total archaea, Penicillium/Aspergillus and total Clostridium cluster 1 were quantified with specific qPCR protocols and emission rates were calculated. Clostridium botulinum, as well as antibiotic resistance genes were detected in each sample using endpoint PCR. Bacterial diversity was also analyzed using denaturing gel electrophoresis (DGGE), image analysis and band sequencing. We demonstrated that emission of bacteria and moulds (Pen/Asp) can reach values as high as 1E05/min and that those emissions are not related to each other. The bag dust bacterial and mould content was also consistently across the vacuums we assessed, reaching up to 1E07 bacteria or moulds equivalent/g. Antibiotic resistance genes were detected in several samples. No archaea or C. botulinum were detected in any air samples. Diversity analyses showed that most bacteria are from human sources, in keeping with other recent results. These results highlight the potential capability of vacuum cleaners to disseminate appreciable quantities of moulds and human-associated bacteria indoors and their role as a source of exposure to bioaerosols.
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