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A field comparison of four bioaerosol samplers for enumerating airborne fungi Lee, Kit Shan

Abstract

Introduction: No standard method exists for enumerating fungal aerosols, impeding the development of reliable exposure-response data. A field comparison of four bioaerosol samplers, the Reuter Centrifugal Sampler (RCS), the Andersen N6 Single Stage (N6), the Surface Air System Super 90, and the Air-o-Cell sampler (AOC), was conducted in a variety of public buildings for the measurement of fungal aerosols to compare sampling performance efficiencies and to collect baseline data for a pool of buildings Methods: Sampling was conducted at 75 sites in public buildings from June-October 2001 in the greater Vancouver area, British Columbia. Four locations were sampled at each site (1 common area, 2 offices, and 1 outdoor sample). Each location was sampled in parallel, collecting approximately 150 litres of air for each sample. Malt extract agar was used for all growth media. Sequential duplicates were taken at each location. Fixedand mixed-effects regression models were constructed to examine the relationships between each method pair and to develop between-sampler calibration equations. Samplers were also scored and ranked on a combination of performance and other sampler characteristics. A survey of a panel of academics and consultants that regularly used bioaerosol sampling equipment for fungal aerosols was conducted to guide the comparison. Results: Data from approximately 592 samples (60 different buildings) were available for analysis from each instrument. Differences were found between samplers for overall yield, detection limits, and reproducibility. Fixed- and mixed-effect models indicated location of the sample to be a confounder in the relationship of all method pairs, and interaction was also found for all except the N6-RCS comparison. Six final models were suggested to serve as possible calibration curves to convert measurements made with one sampler to those made with another. Surveys from 10 professionals were available to weight the other sampler characteristics. The final ranking for this comparison had the N6 and AOC ranked highest and the SAS and RCS the lowest. Conclusions: Concentration data is dependent on the sampling methodology utilized for assessment and should be considered before conducting investigations of bioaerosols in different environments. Exposure guidelines cannot be created until a standard methodology is available.

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