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Bioaerosol Sampling

From:   Author:   Date:2011-11-07  

SKC Guide to Sampling Particles of Biological Origin
Bioaerosol contamination is a growing concern in today's indoor environments. Because contamination may be hard to detect by sight or smell, a thorough evaluation may be necessary to positively confirm its presence and initiate an investigation into the possible source. Evaluation may involve the collection of bulk, air, and/or wipe samples followed by analysis at a qualified environmental microbiology laboratory. Samples are collected using a variety of sampling techniques.

Use this simple guide to help you determine which sampler meets your application.



Principle of Operation

Flow Rate


Sampler Advantages

Sampler Limitations


Collection into swirling liquid

(sonic flow)

Fungi (viable and total), endotoxins, and bacteria

Maintains constant collection efficiency over 8 hours
Reduces particle bounce and re-aerosolization; preserves viability

Less efficient collection of hydrophobic bacteria and fungal spores in water-based collection liquids

Button Sampler

Filtration using porous membrane


Fungi (viable and total), endotoxins, and bacteria

Superior collection uniformity
Low sensitivity to ambient conditions
Sample suitable for viable and non-viable analysis
Personal bioaerosol sampling

Limited viability with standard filters

BioStage Single-stage Impactors

Impaction onto culture media

(BioStage 200)

Fungi (viable) and bacteria

SureLock positive seal
Organisms remain intact and viable
Cost effective and reuseable
Time-proven collection method
Meets NIOSH Methods 0800 and 0801

Particle blow off/bounce
Particle impaction
Short sample times

VersaTrap Spore Trap Cassette

Impaction onto sticky glass slide


Fungi (total), pollen, and fibers

Reduces particle bounce
Prevents sample loss and blurring
Allows direct quantitative analysis
Enumeration of fungal spores with low culturability

Particle blow off/bounce
Slide overload
Short sample times

Sterile Swab Kit

Wipe sample


Fungi (viable and total) and bacteria

Easy to use
Suitable for growth culture
Collects surface contaminants

Samples must be handled aseptically
Multiple samples should be taken
Re-aerosolization of microbes

Wall Inspector Kit

Impaction onto
sticky glass slide


Fungi (total),
pollen, and fibers

Reduces particle bounce
Enumeration of fungal spores with low culturability
Non-destructive sampling of wall cavities



Lift tape surface sample


Fungi, pollen, and fibers

Ensures consistent predetermined sample area
Serialized for sample identification

Includes transport case for mailing to lab

Possible secondary contamination of sample

Carpet Sampling Cassettes

Filtration using porous membrane


Fungi and fibers

Easy to use
Suitable for high flows to enhance detection
Micro-vacuum nozzle for efficient sampling in carpeting

Limited viability

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