Publisher : Korean Society of Environmental Health
DOI : 10.5668/JEHS.2012.38.6.503
Title & Authors
Characteristics of Bioaerosol Generation of Household Humidifiers by User Practices Kim, Ik-Hyeon; Kim, Ki Youn; Kim, Daekeun;
Objectives: This study was performed in order to evaluate the generation characteristics of airborne bacteria and fungi while operating a household humidifier, in consideration of user habits. Methods: Microbial samples were collected in a closed chamber with a total volume of 2.76 , in which a humidifier was operated according to experimental strategies. A cultivation method based on the viable counts of mesophilic heterotrophic bacteria and fungi was performed. Experimental strategies were divided into three classes: the type of water in the water reservoir (tap water, cooled boiled water); the frequency of filling the reservoir (refill every day, no refill); and the sterilization method (sterilization function mode, humidifier disinfectants). Results: Significant increases in the concentration of airborne bacteria were observed while the humidifier was in operation. The concentration had increased to 2,407 by 120 hours when tap water filled the reservoir without any application of sterilization, while for cooled boiled water, it was merely 393 at a similar time point. Usages of disinfectant in the water tank were more effective in decreasing bioaerosol generation compared to sterilization function mode operation. Generation characteristics of airborne fungi were similar to those of bacteria, but the levels were not significant in all experiments. Calculated exposure factor can be used as an indicator to compare biorisk exposure. Conclusion: This study identified the potential for bioaerosol generation in indoor environments while operating a household humidifier. User practices were critical in the generation of bioaerosol, or more specifically, airborne bacteria. Proper usage of a humidifier ensures that any biorisks resulting from generated bioaerosol can be prevented.
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