Development and Evaluation of a Novel Passive Bioaerosol Sampler

EPA Grant Number: F13A10035
Title: Development and Evaluation of a Novel Passive Bioaerosol Sampler
Investigators: Therkorn, Jennifer
Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 2, 2014 through September 2, 2016
Project Amount: $84,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Environmental Science


The main objective of this research is to design, build and validate the performance of a novel passive sampler for airborne biological particles (i.e., bioaerosol) that can operate without external power and an air pump.


Since airborne biological particles tend to carry electrical charge due to dispersion processes and metabolic activity, a polarized substrate with negatively and positively charged sides will be used to electrostatically attract airborne particles of both polarities. A laboratory wind tunnel and calm-air settling chamber will be used to simulate various environmental conditions to optimize sampler collection efficiency. A streamlined analysis procedure will be developed to estimate airborne bacteria and fungi concentrations using flow cytometry. Optimized sampler performance will be validated against currently available pump-based samplers through field testing.

Expected Results:

Expected results of this research include development, performance validation and eventual commercial development of the first passive bioaerosol sampler. A passive sampler will be more versatile, widely deployable and cost-effective than currently available pump-based samplers. Environmental and human health protection will be directly furthered through the development and application of a passive bioaerosol sampler, as it will increase capacity to monitor, detect and study airborne biological particles.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection

Airborne biological particles are ubiquitous indoors and outdoors, and they contribute to a wide spectrum of adverse environmental health effects, such as allergic respiratory diseases caused by bacteria, molds and pollens, spread of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, and crop loss due to fungal pathogens. The unique advantages of the sampler will directly increase human health and environmental protection capabilities through such applications as monitoring spread of antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms, global climate change research, agricultural protection, occupational health and safety sampling, increased capacity for community participatory research and outreach and homeland security.

Supplemental Keywords:

bioaerosol, biological pollutants, passive environmental sampling

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2015
  • Final