The impact of flood and post-flood cleaning on airborne microbiological and particle contamination in residential houses

He, Congrong, Salonen, Heidi, Ling, Xuan, Crilley, Leigh R., Jayasundara, Nadeesha, Cheung, Hing Cho, Hargreaves, Megan, Huygens, Flavia, Knibbs, Luke D., Ayoko, Godwin A., & Morawska, Lidia (2014) The impact of flood and post-flood cleaning on airborne microbiological and particle contamination in residential houses. Environment International, 69, pp. 9-17.

View at publisher


In January 2011, Brisbane, Australia, experienced a major river flooding event. We aimed to investigate its effects on air quality and assess the role of prompt cleaning activities in reducing the airborne exposure risk. A comprehensive, multi-parameter indoor and outdoor measurement campaign was conducted in 41 residential houses, 2 and 6 months after the flood. The median indoor air concentrations of supermicrometer particle number (PN), PM10, fungi and bacteria 2 months after the flood were comparable to those previously measured in Brisbane. These were 2.88 p cm-3, 15 µg m-3, 804 cfu m-3 and 177 cfu m-3 for flood-affected houses (AFH), and 2.74 p cm-3, 15 µg m-3, 547 cfu m-3 and 167 cfu m-3 for non-affected houses (NFH), respectively. The I/O (indoor/outdoor) ratios of these pollutants were 1.08, 1.38, 0.74 and 1.76 for AFH and 1.03, 1.32, 0.83 and 2.17 for NFH, respectively. The average of total elements (together with transition metals) in indoor dust was 2296 ± 1328 µg m-2 for AFH and 1454 ± 678 µg m-2 for NFH, respectively. In general, the differences between AFH and NFH were not statistically significant, implying the absence of a measureable effect on air quality from the flood. We postulate that this was due to the very swift and effective cleaning of the flooded houses by 60,000 volunteers. Among the various cleaning methods, the use of both detergent and bleach was the most efficient at controlling indoor bacteria. All cleaning methods were equally effective for indoor fungi. This study provides quantitative evidence of the significant impact of immediate post-flood cleaning on mitigating the effects of flooding on indoor bioaerosol contamination and other pollutants.

Impact and interest:

4 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™
5 citations in Web of Science®

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

8 since deposited on 29 Jun 2014
7 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 73118
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: indoor air, particle number, PM10, fungi, bacteria, bacteria, CEDM
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2014.04.001
ISSN: 0160-4120
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES (040100) > Atmospheric Aerosols (040101)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT (050200) > Environmental Monitoring (050206)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (090700) > Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified (090799)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Environment International. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Environment International, [VOL 69, (2014)] DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2014.04.001
Deposited On: 29 Jun 2014 23:50
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2016 11:19

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page