Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 185, Issue 5, pp 3993–4003

Monitoring of bioaerosol inhalation risks in different environments using a six-stage Andersen sampler and the PCR-DGGE method


DOI: 10.1007/s10661-012-2844-1

Cite this article as:
Xu, Z. & Yao, M. Environ Monit Assess (2013) 185: 3993. doi:10.1007/s10661-012-2844-1


Increasing evidences show that inhalation of indoor bioaerosols has caused numerous adverse health effects and diseases. However, the bioaerosol size distribution, composition, and concentration level, representing different inhalation risks, could vary with different living environments. The six-stage Andersen sampler is designed to simulate the sampling of different human lung regions. Here, the sampler was used in investigating the bioaerosol exposure in six different environments (student dorm, hospital, laboratory, hotel room, dining hall, and outdoor environment) in Beijing. During the sampling, the Andersen sampler was operated for 30 min for each sample, and three independent experiments were performed for each of the environments. The air samples collected onto each of the six stages of the sampler were incubated on agar plates directly at 26 °C, and the colony forming units (CFU) were manually counted and statistically corrected. In addition, the developed CFUs were washed off the agar plates and subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) for diversity analysis. Results revealed that for most environments investigated, the culturable bacterial aerosol concentrations were higher than those of culturable fungal aerosols. The culturable bacterial and fungal aerosol fractions, concentration, size distribution, and diversity were shown to vary significantly with the sampling environments. PCR-DGGE analysis indicated that different environments had different culturable bacterial aerosol compositions as revealed by distinct gel band patterns. For most environments tested, larger (>3 μm) culturable bacterial aerosols with a skewed size distribution were shown to prevail, accounting for more than 60 %, while for culturable fungal aerosols with a normal size distribution, those 2.1–4.7 μm dominated, accounting for 20–40 %. Alternaria, Cladosporium, Chaetomium, and Aspergillus were found abundant in most environments studied here. Viable microbial load per unit of particulate matter was also shown to vary significantly with the sampling environments. The results from this study suggested that different environments even with similar levels of total microbial cuturable aerosol concentrations could present different inhalation risks due to different bioaerosol particle size distribution and composition. This work fills literature gaps regarding bioaerosol size and composition-based exposure risks in different human dwellings in contrast to a vast body of total bioaerosol levels.


Six-stage Andersen samplerBacterial and fungal aerosolsDiversityInhalation risks

Supplementary material

10661_2012_2844_MOESM1_ESM.doc (480 kb)
Fig. S1(DOC 479 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and EngineeringPeking UniversityBeijingChina