Development of a personal sampler for collecting fungal spores

Bean T. Chen, Gregory A. Feather, Andrew Maynard, Carol Y. Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Exposure to fungal aerosols is of concern in indoor environments. However, sampling limitations have previously made it difficult to assess exposures accurately, especially long-term exposures. A prototype personal aerosol sampler, based on cyclone principles and using a 1.5 ml microcentrifuge tube as a particle collection receptacle has been designed and fabricated. Collection efficiency for aerosol particles in the size range of fungal spores has been evaluated for different types of microcentrifuge tubes, together with the effect of a polyethylene glycol coating on the inside of the tube and the effect of adding water to the tube. Monodisperse, fluorescently tagged polymer microspheres with median diameters of 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, and 16 μm were used to evaluate sampler performance with particle diameter. The microcentrifuge-tube sampler was tested at flow rates of 2 and 4 liters per minute (l/min). Experimental results indicate that the microcentrifuge-tube sampler has an aspiration efficiency of 100% in calm air for particles up to 16 μm. At 4 l/min, the microcentrifuge-tube sampler is able to collect nearly 100% of particles greater than 3 μm and >90% of particles between 2.5 and 3 μm. The 50% cutoff size is 1.5 μm. The performance of the sampler did not vary with the different brands of tubes tested or with the presence or absence of a coating on the tube surface. Furthermore, the addition of water to the tube resulted in a slight increase in collection efficiency. A sampling time of 5 h was feasible at 45-50% relative humidity before evaporation led to significant water loss. The cutoff size of 1.5 μm is comparable to many commercially available bioaerosol samplers. Besides being easy to use, simple to fabricate, and inexpensive, this novel sampler has several advantages over conventional samplers: long-term samples are possible (the limitation of impaction methods); there is no sample transfer loss since the transfer step has been eliminated (the limitation of filter cassettes); laboratory analyses are not dependent solely upon a single analysis method (the limitation of impaction methods), and there is no sampler adherence loss (the limitation of trying to wash microorganisms from filters). In addition, use of the sampler would be applicable in a variety of occupational settings from low bioaerosol concentrations (i.e., indoor environments) to high bioaerosol concentrations (i.e., agricultural setting) by varying sampling time periods and using sensitive analytical methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)926-937
Number of pages12
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Pollution


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