Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Airborne bacteria concentrations and related factors at university laboratories, hospital diagnostic laboratories and a biowaste site
  1. Sung Ho Hwang1,
  2. Dong Uk Park2,
  3. Kwon Chul Ha3,
  4. Hyun Woo Cho1,
  5. Chung Sik Yoon1
  1. 1Institute of Health and Environment, School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
  2. 2Department of Environmental Health, Korea National Open University, Seoul, South Korea
  3. 3Department of Biochemistry and Health Science, Changwon National University, Gyeongnam, South Korea
  1. Correspondence to Chungsik Yoon, Occupational & Environmental Health Laboratory, Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Gwanak_599, Gwanak-ro, Seoul 151-742, South Korea; csyoon{at}


Aims To evaluate concentrations of airborne bacteria in university laboratories, hospital diagnostic laboratories, and a biowaste site in Seoul, Korea. To measure total airborne bacteria (TAB), the authors assessed sampling site, type of ventilation system, weather and detection of Gram-negative bacteria (GNB), indoors and outdoors.

Method An Andersen one-stage sampler (Quick Take 30; SKC Inc) was used to sample air at a flow rate of 28.3 l/min for 5 min on nutrient medium in Petri dishes located on the impactor. A total of 236 samples (TAB, 109 indoor and nine outdoor; GNB, 109 indoor and nine outdoor) were collected three times in each spot from the 11 facilities to compare airborne bacteria concentrations.

Results TAB concentrations ranged from undetectable to 3451 CFU/m3 (mean 384 CFU/m3), and GNB concentrations from undetectable to 394 CFU/m3 (mean 17 CFU/m3). TAB concentrations were high in window-ventilated facilities and facilities in which GNB were detected; concentrations were also high when it was rainy (all p values <0.05). TAB concentrations correlated significantly with GNB (r=0.548, p<0.01), number of bacteria species (r=0.351, p<0.01) and temperature (r=0.297, p<0.01). The presence of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC), the number of TAB species and the detection of GNB affect TAB concentrations in laboratories.

Conclusions It is recommended that special attention be given to regular control of indoor environments to improve the air quality of university and hospital laboratories.

  • Hospital hygiene
  • microbiology

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding This study was supported by Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) in 2009 (No 2009-51-1202).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.