Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The application of molecular based tools for bioaerosol source tracking and disinfection assessment
by Rodriguez de Evgrafov, Mari Cristina, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2009, 166; 3354630
Abstract (Summary)

Airborne microorganisms play a pivotal role in public health, national security, economic, and agricultural matters, yet our understanding of their identity, distribution and abundance is limited. Employment of molecular based detection and enumeration methods to the study of aerobiology would improve our understanding of commonly encountered microorganisms, as well as establish baseline information for surveillance efforts. This dissertation uses such methods to examine several environments of public health interest.

The first case investigated was the potential partitioning of waterborne microorganisms into the atmosphere by massive pumping and aeration operations of floodwaters in New Orleans following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. To determine if remediation efforts significantly impacted airborne microbe populations, or resulted in aerosolization of potentially pathogenic microorganisms, paired air and water samples were collected in the immediate vicinity of turbulent pumping and aeration operations and analyzed. Remediation activities were found not to significantly impact the bioaerosol ecology proximal to large engineering works. No pathogenic species were detected in the aerosol samples. Airborne ecology results were consistent with phylum level taxonomic patterns emerging from observations of outdoor bioaerosol communities.

The second scenario examined was worker exposure to harmful bioaerosols within concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The recovered ecology was more diverse than previously reported and dominated by organisms associated with animal gut microbiota. No respiratory pathogens of concern were observed; however, the potentially pathogenic species Aerococcus viridans was present in several samples. Fungal species were not recovered from indoor samples.

The third situation reviewed was indoor airborne ecology of flood impacted and subsequently remediated homes in New Orleans. Observed fungal populations were substantially different from those commonly recovered using traditional culture methods from water-damaged homes. Wallemia sebi was the only potential respiratory pathogen observed in significant abundance and was found in both indoor and outdoor environments.

Finally quantitative PCR was explored as a tool to assess aerosol disinfection efficiency. Bench scale experiments revealed that UV exposure did not impact recovery of QPCR at doses germane to airborne microbial inactivation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hernandez, Mark T.
Commitee: Bielefeldt, Angela R., Pace, Norman R., Silverstein, JoAnn, Spear, John
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Civil Engineering
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-B 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental engineering
Keywords: Aerobiology, Bioaerosols, Disinfection, Source tracking, Ultraviolet disinfection
Publication Number: 3354630
ISBN: 9781109117189
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