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      High bacterial load of indoor air in hospital wards: the case of University of Gondar teaching hospital, Northwest Ethiopia

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          The air inhaled by people is abundantly populated with microorganisms which also are called bioaerosols. Bioaerosols is a colloidal suspension, formed by liquid droplets and particles of solid matter in the air, whose components contain or have attached to them viruses, fungal spores and conidia, bacterial endospores, plant pollen and fragments of plant tissues. They account for 5–34 % of indoor air pollution.


          A cross-sectional study was conducted to assess the bacteriological concentration and to identify specific species of bacteria in the indoor air of Gondar University teaching hospital. Air samples were taken from 14 randomly selected wards. Bacterial measurements were made by passive air sampling technique i.e., the settle plate method. In each ward five Petri dishes were exposed for 30 and 60 min in the morning and afternoon. Bacteria were collected on nutrient agar and blood agar media. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted. The quantitative analysis was mainly conducted to determine bacterial load or number of bacteria in the indoor air. Bacterial load was enumerated as colony forming units. Qualitative analysis was conducted to identify specific species of bacteria. For this study we have selected Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus which had high public health concern. Mannitol test was used to isolate Staphylococcus aureus, whereas Bacitracin test was conducted to isolate Streptococcus pyogene.


          The result of this study indicated that the highest bacterial load which was 1468 CFU/m 3 has been recorded at 2:00 PM in Ward C at 60 min exposure time and the lowest bacterial concentration (i.e., 480 CFU/m 3) was recorded at 8:00 AM in physiotherapy ward. Based on the result bacterial concentration of indoor air of Gondar University teaching hospital was found between 480 and 1468 CFU/m 3. The result of one way ANOVA showed that the highest mean bacterial concentration (1271.00 CFU/m 3) was found in Medical ward and the least (583.25 CFU/m 3) concentration was found in ward D and the grand total average concentration was 878.43 CFU/m 3. Favorable conditions for growth and multiplication of bacteria like temperature (26.5–29.5 °C), humidity (64.5–85 %), presence of unhygienic attached toilets, poor waste management system and poor ventilation system were observed during the survey. Staphylococcus aureus was identified in 10 wards and Streptococcus pyogenes was isolated in 8 hospital wards.


          Compared with different indoor air biological standards, higher concentration of indoor air bacterial load was found in Gondar University teaching hospital. The higher bacterial load may be due to temperature, humidity, presence of unhygienic attached toilets, poor waste management system and poor ventilation system. Therefore, attention must be given to control those environmental factors which favor the growth and multiplication of microbes in indoor environment. In addition, also the ventilation condition, cleanliness of toilets, sweeping methods and waste disposal system of the compound should be improved.

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          Most cited references 27

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          The effect of environmental parameters on the survival of airborne infectious agents.

           Jay X. Tang (2009)
          The successful transmission of infection via the airborne route relies on several factors, including the survival of the airborne pathogen in the environment as it travels between susceptible hosts. This review summarizes the various environmental factors (particularly temperature and relative humidity) that may affect the airborne survival of viruses, bacteria and fungi, with the aim of highlighting specific aspects of environmental control that may eventually enhance the aerosol or airborne infection control of infectious disease transmission within hospitals.
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            Indoor air quality, ventilation and health symptoms in schools: an analysis of existing information.

            We reviewed the literature on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), ventilation, and building-related health problems in schools and identified commonly reported building-related health symptoms involving schools until 1999. We collected existing data on ventilation rates, carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and symptom-relevant indoor air contaminants, and evaluated information on causal relationships between pollutant exposures and health symptoms. Reported ventilation and CO2 data strongly indicate that ventilation is inadequate in many classrooms, possibly leading to health symptoms. Adequate ventilation should be a major focus of design or remediation efforts. Total volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde (HCHO) and microbiological contaminants are reported. Low HCHO concentrations were unlikely to cause acute irritant symptoms (<0.05 ppm), but possibly increased risks for allergen sensitivities, chronic irritation, and cancer. Reported microbiological contaminants included allergens in deposited dust, fungi, and bacteria. Levels of specific allergens were sufficient to cause symptoms in allergic occupants. Measurements of airborne bacteria and airborne and surface fungal spores were reported in schoolrooms. Asthma and 'sick building syndrome' symptoms are commonly reported. The few studies investigating causal relationships between health symptoms and exposures to specific pollutants suggest that such symptoms in schools are related to exposures to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), molds and microbial VOCs, and allergens.
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              Personal exposures and microenvironmental concentrations of particles and bioaerosols.

              The aim of this study was to compare the personal exposure to particles and bioaerosols with that measured by stationary samplers in the main microenvironments, i.e., the home and the workplace. A random sample of 81 elementary school teachers was selected from the 823 teachers working for two councils in eastern Finland for the winter time measurement period. Bioaerosol and other particles were collected on filters by button samplers using personal sampling and microenvironmental measurements in homes and workplaces. The 24-hour sampling period was repeated twice for each teacher. Particle mass, absorption coefficient of the filter and the concentration of viable and total microorganisms were analyzed from each filter. In this paper, the study design, quality assurance principles and results of particle and bioaerosol exposure are described. The results show that particle mass concentrations, absorption coefficient and fungi were higher in personal exposure samples than in home and workplace samples. Furthermore, these concentrations were usually lower in the home than in the workplace. Bacterial concentrations were highest in heavily populated workplaces, while the viable fungi concentrations were lowest in workplaces. The fungi and bacteria results showed high variation, which emphasises the importance of quality assurance (duplicates and field blanks) in the microbial field measurements. Our results indicate that personal exposure measurements of bioaerosols in indoor environments are feasible and supplement the information obtained by stationary samplers.

                Author and article information

                Multidiscip Respir Med
                Multidiscip Respir Med
                Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine
                BioMed Central (London )
                5 July 2016
                5 July 2016
                : 11
                Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, Institute of Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia
                © Gizaw et al. 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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