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Survival and growth of micro-organisms on air filtration media during initial loading

Kemp, P.C., Neumeister-Kemp, H.G., Lysek, G. and Murray, F. (2001) Survival and growth of micro-organisms on air filtration media during initial loading. Atmospheric Environment, 35 (28). pp. 4739-4749.

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A new type of air filtration medium made from a hygroscopic polymer fibre and constructed in three layers was investigated to measure the survival and growth of micro-organisms on this medium in comparison to a widely used fibreglass medium. Both materials were supplied by the manufacturer and tested 'blind'. The materials were loaded in an Airotester unit. Micro-organisms were analysed at 2 weekly intervals for 8 weeks by washing filter samples and plating the solution on to agar media and by vital fluorescence microscopy. Filter samples were also weighed to calculate water content and the pH value of the filter material was measured in the wash out eluate. Vital fluorescence microscopy revealed fungi were able to grow on fibreglass medium, but not on the multi-layered polymer. The colony forming unit (CFU) counts did not increase at a steady rate. There was a significant increase on both materials (P<0.001) during the first 2 weeks which was then followed by a significant decrease in 4 weeks (P<0.001) but the CFU then significantly increased in 6 weeks (P<0.05) which were the highest CFU counts during the 2-month trial. There was a significant difference in CFU counts between the filter materials only in week 2 (P≤0.001) and week 4 (P=0.04). Fewer micro-organisms were extracted from the multi-layered polymer than from the fibreglass medium. Fewer fungal species were identified on the multi-layered polymer (nine species) than on the fibreglass medium (13 species). The pH value on the multi-layered polymer was significantly higher than the fibreglass material but only when clean (P<0.010) and after 2 weeks (P<0.001). A significantly higher water content on the fibreglass medium (P<0.001) also indicated a habitat where a wider range of fungal species and bacteria are able to survive. While there was a reduced survival and growth of micro-organisms on the multi-layered polymer material in the initial month of service life, this advantage was cancelled by the supply of nutrients (particulate matter) that were accumulated on the filter materials after 6 weeks.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2001 Elsevier B.V.
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