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Laboratory Validation and Initial Field Testing of an Unobtrusive Bioaerosol Detector for Health Care Settings

Category: Bioaerosols

Volume: 19 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 331-344
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2017.10.0371

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Jana Kesavan 1, Gary Kilper2, Mike Williamson1, Valerie Alstadt1, Anne Dimmock3, Rebecca Bascom3

  • 1 US Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21010, USA
  • 2 Excet Inc., Springfield, VA 22150, USA
  • 3 Penn State College of Medicine, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA 17033, USA


The expensive UV-APS was highly accurate across a 100 fold particle concentration.
The less expensive TACBIO was reasonably accurate in detection efficiency.
Detection of fluorescent particles >1.5 µm by both systems agreed.
TACBIO is able to track real-time variations in ambient particles.
TACBIO can be used as a bioaerosol detector in indoor environments.


Microorganisms can be transmitted from infected to healthy people as an aerosol. Military bioaerosol detectors currently used by soldiers or first responders may potentially be utilized in health care settings as part of a strategy to prevent the spread of airborne infectious diseases. The goal of this study was to conduct initial laboratory and field validation of an inexpensive and unobtrusive TACBIO detector and compare its performance with that of an expensive bioaerosol detection instrument, the Ultraviolet Aerodynamic Particle Sizer (UV-APS). The laboratory validation test used three bacterial clusters (Bacillus thuringiensis [Bt], Bacillus anthracis Sterne [BaS], and Bacillus atrophaeus var. globigii [Bg]) generated at controlled rates by an ink jet aerosol generator (IJAG). The detection efficiency of the UV-APS was ≥ 99% for all particle generation rates and species. The TACBIO detector exhibited a slightly lower detection efficiency but was still able to detect > 88% of Bt and BaS and 62.7–81.7% of Bg. Field validation conducted with simultaneous UV-APS and TACBIO sampling in an occupied hospital clinic showed both instruments closely tracking each other in detecting fluorescent particles > 1.5 µm in diameter. During a 6 hour sampling period, fluorescent particle (> 1.5 µm) concentrations showed wide short term variation connected to nearby human activity while smaller nonfluorescent particles displayed more gradual changes. These results indicate the usefulness of an unobtrusive environmental aerosol sampler in health care settings, motivating future field characterization and validation studies.


Aerosol sampling Hospital clinic background aerosols UV-APS TACBIO

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