Research 269: Online Bioaerosol Sensing (OLBAS)

Authors: John Sodeau, David O’Connor, Patrick Feeney, Michael Quirke, Shane Daly, Mehael Fennelly, Paul Buckley, Stig Hellebust, Eoin McGillicuddy and John Wenger

Summary: This report presents a description of field and laboratory studies directed towards understanding the time behaviours of sources, removal pathways and number concentrations of airborne fungal spores and pollen.

Research 269 thumbnail

Published: 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84095-815-7

Pages: 67

Filesize: 2,416 KB

Format: pdf


Identifying Pressures

The need to measure the occurrence and real-time development of bioaerosols related to natural emissions and agricultural and waste-management activities has increased dramatically over recent years. This necessity is based on the undesirable effects that they are known to have on human health and the role that they play in global warming.  For example, Aspergillus fumigatus, which is released from both composting and harvesting activities, is the most important airborne fungal spore pathogen to cause life-threatening infections in immunocompromised patients. High levels of pollen can also be particularly serious to those in the population defined with “at risk” respiratory issues such as asthma.

Informing Policy

Indoor and outdoor locations likely to be associated with higher bioaerosol occupational risk such as green-waste composting sites, farms with hay barns and food waste or associated agricultural facilities could be continuously monitored as a matter of course.

Developing Solutions

Three short, on-site campaigns were carried out at a green-waste management facility in Ireland and were the first to provide real-time data on bioaerosol emissions as a set of site-characterising, continuous profiles. The results showed that the fluorescence aerosol particle (FAP)/bioaerosol counts varied enormously depending on working activity, time of day/week and weather conditions. The Andersen counting method provided limited insight into the activities, because the measurements were performed off-site on just one occasion per year, in line with current licensing requirements. Averaged FAP monitoring data collected in the staff cabin showed that three major bioaerosol events occur each day, at opening time, lunchtime and closing time. Airborne grass pollen was identified for the first time in real time by measuring its chlorophyll signal.