Performance of personal electrostatic bioaerosol sampler (PEBS) when collecting airborne microorganisms

Taewon T. Han, Nirmala M. Thomas, Gediminas Mainelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We recently developed a new personal electrostatic bioaerosol sampler (PEBS) for determining exposures to airborne microorganisms. PEBS was shown to collect airborne non-biological particles with efficiencies approaching 80% while producing very low ozone concentrations. In this work, we analyzed the performance of this sampler when collecting airborne Bacillus atrophaeus bacterial cells and Penicillium chrysogenum fungal spores as a function of sampling flow rates (e.g., 10 and 20 L/min) and sampling time (e.g., 10, 60, and 240 min). The collected samples were analyzed using microscopy, adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-based bioluminescence, flow cytometry (Live/Dead test), and culture techniques. PEBS's physical and biological performance was compared against that of BioSampler (SKC Inc., Eighty Four, PA) when the samplers were operated at 10 and 12.5 L/min, respectively. PEBS achieved physical collection efficiency as high as 83%, and its physical performance in terms of measured bioaerosol concentration was better than that of BioSampler. In addition, a fraction of live microorganisms recovered by PEBS was not different from that of BioSampler. Compared to BioSampler, PEBS measured similar or higher concentrations of culturable bacteria, but lower concentrations of culturable spores. The airborne ATP concentration measured by PEBS was significantly higher than that measured by BioSampler. Overall, we show that PEBS is a viable and efficient technology to determine personal exposures to airborne microorganisms using multiple sample analysis techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-67
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Aerosol Science
StatePublished - Oct 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Pollution
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


  • Biological efficiency
  • Collection efficiency
  • Electrostatic precipitator
  • Personal sampler
  • Wire-to-Wire charger


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