By sampling aerosolized microorganisms, the efficiency of a bioaerosol sampler can be calculated depending on its ability both to collect microorganisms and to preserve their culturability during a sampling process. However, those culturability losses in the non-sampling processes should not be counted toward the sampling efficiency. Prior to the efficiency assessment, this study was designed to investigate the culturability losses in three non-sampling processes: (1) the tracer uranine induced loss; (2) the loss during aerosolization (pre-sampling process); and (3) the bacteria and uranine recovery in air sample handling procedures for the samples of the Andersen 6-stage impactor and the Airport MD8 (post-sampling process). The results indicated that uranine had no significant effect on the culturability of Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, and Mycoplasma synoviae in suspensions (P > 0.05), but negatively affected the culturability of Campylobacter jejuni (P = 0.01). The culturability of E. faecalis, E. coli, and M. synoviae was not affected by stresses caused by aerosolization (P > 0.05). Only 29% of C. jejuni were still culturable during aerosolization (P = 0.02). In the air sample handling procedures, the four species of bacteria were recovered without significant losses from the samples of the Andersen impactor, but only 33-60% uranine was recovered. E. faecalis, E. coli, and M. synoviae were recovered without significant losses from the samples of the Airport MD8. More C. jejuni was recovered (172%), probably due to multiplication or counting variation. It is suggested that tracer and bacteria should be aerosolized separately when the tracer negatively affects the bacterial culturability. In both pre- and post-sampling processes, losses of bacterial culturability (or multiplication) may occur, which should be taken into account when assessing the efficiencies of bioaerosol samplers.
- airborne particles