NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Fungal genera and species observed on wide body commercial passenger aircraft and airport terminals.

Taylor L; Wallingford K; Hein M; Burge H; Herrick R
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 13-16, 2006, Chicago, Illinois. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2006 May; :26
To date, there is limited research regarding the identification of specific fungal genera on commercial passenger aircraft. We have studied concentrations of genera/species of airborne culturable fungi and total spore concentrations by genus or larger group on a series of twin aisle wide-body aircraft. Twelve flights on B- 767 aircraft between 4.5 and 6.5 hours in duration were evaluated. Using N-6 impactor and spore traps, triplicate samples were collected in the front and rear of coach class during six sampling intervals throughout each flight: boarding, mid-climb, early cruise, mid-cruise, late cruise, and deplaning. Comparison samples were also collected inside and outside airport terminals at the origin and destination cities. Data were analyzed using both frequency (percentage of samples in which genus/species was detected) and peak concentration methodologies within the different sampling intervals. A total of 522 culturable and 517 spore samples were collected on twelve aircraft flights and inside and outside airport terminals. A variety of 46 genus/species were observed in both the culturable and total spore samples. The composition of fungal genera varied between inside and outside the airport terminal locations. The genera also differed between sampling intervals on the aircraft, specifically between boarding or deplaning compared to the cruise intervals. A frequency analysis of the fungal data indicated that Cladosporium. Aspergillus and Pencillium were predominant genera in the culturable samples whereas Cladosporium. Basidiospores. PencilliumlAspergillus, and Ascospores were predominant in the total spore samples. The peak analysis revealed isolated genera/species spike events observed on particular flights. The analysis of genera indicates that fungi from both inside and outside the terminal are migrating onto the aircraft while the aircraft is attached to the gate. Other probable sources for the fungal concentrations are likely human shedding from the passengers themselves or reservoirs contained within the aircraft.
Fungi; Air-transportation; Aircraft; Airports; Airborne-particles; Air-quality; Sampling; Air-sampling
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 13-16, 2006, Chicago, Illinois
Page last reviewed: August 26, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division