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Measurements of airborne microorganisms and MVOCs at an elementary school in West Virginia.

Gao P; Boylstein R; Berardinelli S; Feather G; Hnizdo E; Kullman G
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 2-7, 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2001 Jun; :65
Exposure to airborne microorganisms was investigated in relationship to health complaints among teachers at an elementary school in West Virginia. The school, constructed during the 1920's, is a four-story brick building of about forty classrooms. The basement had evidence of water leaks/incursions. A Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) was conducted at the school during 1999. A questionnaire survey showed that employees who worked in the basement area reported higher occurrence of asthma-like respiratory symptoms than employees who worked on the 1st or 2nd floor of the school. Almost all employees from the basement area (89%) reported wheezing and shortness of breath with wheezing during the last 12 months, and 66.7% reported taking medication for breathing problems. Air samples were taken to determine microbial volatile organic compounds (MYOCs), culturable fungi and bacteria, and total fungal spores in air, respectively. Sampling locations included three rooms in the basement area, a classroom on the ground floor, and a classroom on the 2nd floor. Samples were also taken outside the school for comparison. MVOC concentrations were determined to be 724 to 1,876 ng/m3. Culturable airborne fungi and bacteria ranged from 132 to 1095 CFU/m3 and 230 to 892 CFU/m3, respectively. Total airborne fungal spores ranged from 840 to 5,694 spores/m3. The basement area had a unique representation of Basidomycetes and Aspergillus species, and had higher representation of bacterial species not found in the ambient or 1st and 2nd floor air samples. Regression analyses yielded the highest correlation (R2 = 0.66) between MVOC levels and total culturable bioaerosols (fungi and bacteria), when compared to the correlation between MVOC levels and culturable airborne fungi (R2 = 0.58) or bacteria (R2 = 0.39) alone.
Exposure levels; Airborne particles; Microorganisms; Education; Teaching; Questionnaires; Workers; Work environment; Work areas; Respiration; Respiratory system disorders; Pulmonary function; Pulmonary system; Pulmonary system disorders; Air samples; Organic compounds; Fungi; Bacteria
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 2-7, 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana
Page last reviewed: July 9, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division