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Comparison of high-volume air sampling equipment for viral aerosol sampling during emergency response

Casey Cooper, MS, MBA, CIH, Jeremy Slagley, PhD, CIH, CSP, James Lohaus Jr, PhD, Elizabeth Escamilla, MS, Christopher Bliss, BSc, MSc, Diana Semler, MSc, Daniel Felker, PhD, David Smith, PhD, Darrin Ott, PhD, CIH


Objective: This study compared the performance of two high-volume bioaerosol air samplers for viable virus to an accepted standard low-volume sampler. In typical bioaerosol emergency response scenarios, high-volume sampling is essential for the low infective concentrations and large air volumes involved.

Design: Two high-volume air samplers (XMX/2LMIL and DFU-1000) were evaluated alongside a low-volume sample (BioSampler). Low and high concentrations (9.3-93.2 agent containing particles per liter of air [ACPLA]) of male-specific coliphage 2 (MS2) virus were released into a 12 m3 aerosol test chamber and collected using the air samplers. The collection media from the samplers were then processed and viable virus was assessed via plaque assay.

Setting: Aerosol test chamber.

Subjects, participants: None.

Interventions: Collection media and flow rate were modified for the XMX/2L-MIL sampler for viable analysis.

Main outcome measures: Concentration estimates in units of plaque forming units per liter of air (PFU/liter) assessed by the samplers as compared to the levels inside the chamber as evaluated with a slit to agar plate in units of ACPLA. Comparison was made via one-way analysis of variance.

Results: Both the XMX/2L-MIL and DFU-1000 achieved collection effectiveness equal to or greater than the low-volume air sampler for the evaluated MS2 concentrations. The XMX/2L-MIL reliably collected quantifiable low concentrations of MS2, but the DFU-1000 was unable to do so.

Conclusions: For emergency response to suspected bioaerosols, the evaluated high-volume samplers are as effective as the standard low-flow sampler and should be considered in conducting a health risk assessment. If low concentrations are expected, then high-flow samplers using liquid collection are preferred.


bioaerosol sampling, bacteriophage, virtual impactor, bioterrorism

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