Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 3510–3517 | Cite as

Exploring the potential relationship between indoor air quality and the concentration of airborne culturable fungi: a combined experimental and neural network modeling study

  • Zhijian Liu
  • Kewei Cheng
  • Hao LiEmail author
  • Guoqing Cao
  • Di Wu
  • Yunjie Shi
Research Article


Indoor airborne culturable fungi exposure has been closely linked to occupants’ health. However, conventional measurement of indoor airborne fungal concentration is complicated and usually requires around one week for fungi incubation in laboratory. To provide an ultra-fast solution, here, for the first time, a knowledge-based machine learning model is developed with the inputs of indoor air quality data for estimating the concentration of indoor airborne culturable fungi. To construct a database for statistical analysis and model training, 249 data groups of air quality indicators (concentration of indoor airborne culturable fungi, indoor/outdoor PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations, indoor temperature, indoor relative humidity, and indoor CO2 concentration) were measured from 85 residential buildings of Baoding (China) during the period of 2016.11.15–2017.03.15. Our results show that artificial neural network (ANN) with one hidden layer has good prediction performances, compared to a support vector machine (SVM). With the tolerance of ± 30%, the prediction accuracy of the ANN model with ten hidden nodes can at highest reach 83.33% in the testing set. Most importantly, we here provide a quick method for estimating the concentration of indoor airborne fungi that can be applied to real-time evaluation.


Indoor airborne culturable fungi Indoor air quality PM2.5 and PM10 Prediction Machine learning Artificial neural network (ANN) 



We are grateful to all the other participants who assisted the data collections.

Funding information

This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China-Source identification, monitoring and integrated control of indoor microbial contamination (No. 2017YFC0702800), National Science Foundation of China (No. 51708211), and Natural Science Foundation of Hebei (No. E2017502051).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhijian Liu
    • 1
  • Kewei Cheng
    • 2
  • Hao Li
    • 3
    Email author
  • Guoqing Cao
    • 4
  • Di Wu
    • 1
  • Yunjie Shi
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Power Engineering, School of Energy, Power and Mechanical EngineeringNorth China Electric Power UniversityBaodingChina
  2. 2.School of Computing, Informatics, Decision Systems Engineering (CIDSE), Ira A. Fulton Schools of EngineeringArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Building Environment and EnergyChina Academy of Building ResearchBeijingChina
  5. 5.Advanced Materials Science and EngineeringImperial College London, South Kensington CampusLondonUK

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