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Effect of electrical charges and fields on injury and viability of airborne bacteria.
Mainelis G; Gorny RL; Reponen T; Trunov M; Grinshpun SA; Baron P; Yadav J; Willeke K
Biotechnol Bioeng 2002 Jul; 79(2):229-241
In this study, the effects of the electric charges and fields on the viability of airborne microorganisms were investigated. The electric charges of different magnitude and polarity were imparted on airborne microbial cells by a means of induction charging. The airborne microorganisms carrying different electric charge levels were then extracted by an electric mobility analyzer and collected using a microbial sampler. It was found that the viability of Pseudomonas fluorescens bacteria, used as a model for sensitive bacteria, carrying a net charge from 4100 negative to 30 positive elementary charges ranged between 40% and 60%; the viability of the cells carrying >2700 positive charges was below 1.5%. In contrast, the viability of the stress-resistant spores of Bacillus subtilis var. niger (used as simulant of anthrax-causing Bacillus anthracis spores when testing bioaerosol sensors in various studies), was not affected by the amount of electric charges on the spores. Because bacterial cells depend on their membrane potential for basic metabolic activities, drastic changes occurring in the membrane potential during aerosolization and the local electric fields induced by the imposed charges appeared to affect the sensitive cells' viability. These findings facilitate applications of electric charging for environmental control purposes involving sterilization of bacterial cells by imposing high electric charges on them. The findings from this study can also be used in the development of new bioaerosol sampling methods based on electrostatic principles.
Microorganisms; Airborne-particles; Aerosols; Electrical-charge; Infectious-diseases; Infection-control; Biological-weapons; Biological-warfare; Biological-agents; Electrical-fields
Aerosol Research and Exposure Assessment Laboratory, Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
Issue of Publication
Research Tools and Approaches: Exposure Assessment Methods
Biotechnology and Bioengineering
University of Cincinnati
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division