Advanced Sampler for Measuring Exposure to Biological Aerosols To improve assessment of exposures to airborne microorganisms, and to protect the populations and resources at risk from such exposures, advanced bioaerosol detection and sensing systems are needed. In this research, responding to PA-07-318 "Occupational Safety and Health Research (R01)", we will develop and field-test a novel liquid-based bioaerosol sampler featuring very high concentration rates (higher than 1 million) while having low power requirements. In this sampler, the airborne particles are electrically charged and then deposited on a superhydrophobic surface from which they are removed by liquid droplets as small as 10 5L. The droplets can then be analyzed by a variety of techniques, such as polymerase chain reaction to detect the presence of biological aerosols. The feasibility of this approach has been shown in the exploratory research. In this project, the researchers will improve the novel sampler's components, especially the particle charger, and will prepare a field-deployable sampling system which will be extensively tested in the field against leading bioaerosol samplers. Very high concentration rates of the new sampler will allow detecting exposures to even low microorganism concentrations - a feature lacking in current samplers - thus improving our ability to identify the exposure risks and protect affected populations. This proposal responds to several NORA's Priority Research Agendas: National Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing;National Services;National Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities. Upon successful development, this novel sampling technology could be integrated with various "laboratories on a chip" and may lead to near real-time determination of airborne microbial contaminants. Such advanced detection method, plus sampler's small size and low power requirements would make the proposed tool suitable for numerous applications not only for exposure assessment in occupational and residential environments, but also in Homeland security area. Use of electrostatic technique as a particle collection mechanism offers another significant advantage over current inertia- based samplers: ability to collect airborne viruses and nanoparticles.

Public Health Relevance

In this project, a novel tool to estimate exposures to biological aerosols, especially to their low concentrations, will be developed and extensively tested in the field against leading technologies. This novel bioaerosol sampler will have very high concentration rate allowing to substantially improve our ability to detect airborne biological hazards in many occupational environments. It will allow us to better understand workers'exposures and related health effects and to implement protective measures more effectively.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Research Project (R01)
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Safety and Occupational Health Study Section (SOH)
Program Officer
Frederick, Linda J
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Rutgers University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
New Brunswick
United States
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Zhen, Huajun; Han, Taewon; Fennell, Donna E et al. (2013) Release of free DNA by membrane-impaired bacterial aerosols due to aerosolization and air sampling. Appl Environ Microbiol 79:7780-9