While gas phase pollutants and suspended particulate matter in atmosphere have received much attention, the biological content as well as the biological activity of aerosols respectively termed bioaerosol toxicology has been largely ignored by the engineering community. Certainly this is not consistent with the environmental engineering perspective concerning water quality. In response, this work will adapt quantitative molecular biology methods for use in the atmospheric environment, with the express purpose of assessing the composition and toxicological properties of indoor bioaerosols. The methods developed will be applied to indoor aerosols because most human exposure occurs indoors. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that both biogenic and inorganic pools of airborne particulate matter can act as potent adjuvants that sensitize lungs and mucosal membranes to air pollution both indoors and out. This sensitization manifests through a broad spectrum of serious health effects, some of which are well known infectious diseases, but many of which fall into generic respiratory diseases including, but not limited to, allergenic, hypersensitivity and toxigenic responses which often present as asthma. With the rapid growth of respiratory illnesses over the last generation come their marked association with poor indoor air quality IAQ and the reclamation of commercial and residential building stocks from large-scale disasters: floods, storms, tsunamis and earthquakes. There is relatively little information regarding bioaerosol exposures within buildings impacted by water/structural damage. IAQ regulatory criteria for building reoccupation have not been defined from an epidemiological perspective appropriate for building stocks impacted by disasters. In response to this paucity, a primary scientific goal of this study is to comprehensively characterize bioaerosol loads: biochemically, ecologically and toxicologically. An associated engineering goal of this study is to assess the in-situ efficacy of applying a new generation of electrically enhanced air filter technology for the express purpose of reducing indoor bioaerosol exposure ? both in the lab with surrogate bioaerosols, and in the field. High incident, water damaged buildings on the campuses and in the proximity of Dillard University and the University of Colorado, will serve as field sites for this demonstration study. Dillard is a historically black college in New Orleans, which sustained tremendous damage from Hurricane Katrina. Supplementing Dillard?s related NSF support HRD 1118254, mentoring from Colorado?s graduate bioaerosol research group will be formally extended to Dillard?s students, who will be trained in modern bioaerosol assessment techniques using REU-like formats and university exchanges. Buildings that have been previously identified with elevated or otherwise dangerous indoor bioaerosol levels pathogenic microbes, will be retrofit with electrostatically enhanced filters. Carrier Corporation and the Hunter Fan Company have agreed to provide in-kind stand alone filtration equipment for the purposes of this intervention study. The performance of this emerging technology will be as evaluated for its IAQ remediation ability in a sustainable context. The intrinsic scientific merits of this study lie in establishing a robust suite of fundamental aerobiological characterization tools for indoor aerosols, to include biochemical and toxicological indices which have never collectively been used in the atmospheric environment before. Engineering merit lies in the assessment of emerging filter technology to cost-effectively manipulate indoor bioaerosol levels for broad public health benefit. Broader reaching impacts stem from a discovery-driven partnership between an ?R1? University with extensive bioaerosol and IAQ engineering expertise, and an HBCU recovering from Katrina. This project will enhance Dillard?s educational infrastructure and bring modern industrial hygiene training capabilities to underrepresented students in a region that because of Katrina, no longer has Environmental Engineering programs Tulane has closed its program. This work will demonstrate a fundamental basis for the regulatory suite of IAQ indices to include more robust bioaerosol analyses in the future, and link biological characterization of indoor atmospheric environments to building reclamation and reoccupation practices.

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University of Colorado at Boulder
United States
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