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The low-cost, portable electrostatic sampling
device developed by ARS performs high-efficiency sampling of airborne bacteria,
viruses and spores. Click the image for more information about
Low-Cost Air Sampler Could Help Poultry Farmers
October 14, 2005
Dust may only be a nuisance to a
homeowner, but for a poultry grower it can be a disaster. On those dust
particles organisms such as Salmonella and E. coli can hitch a
ride and wreak havoc in a poultry house or layer room.
To deal with this problem, a low-cost, simple, portable electrostatic
sampling device was developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the
Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga. The device takes samples of
airborne bacteria, viruses and spores that can be problematic in poultry houses
and layer rooms.
The compact, two-pound device developed by agricultural engineer
Mitchell and his colleagues is battery-operated and housed in a completely
waterproof enclosure, allowing complete disinfection after use in highly
The device has good potential as an affordable and efficient sampling method
for detecting pathogenic strains of microorganisms that may be present in
numbers so small it is difficult to recover them by traditional methods.
Airborne particles are electrostatically charged, which makes them attracted to
grounded surfaces--in this case, a metal plate or an agar dish.
The device pulls in air, along with dust particles, for sampling. Its
been tested extensively in clean lab areas, in exhaust air from poultry houses,
and in caged layer rooms with birds infected with Salmonella
enteritidis. It has shown up to a 20-fold improvement compared to standard
settling plate sampling techniques.
Previous devices with good-to-high efficiency recovery were typically large
and bulky, difficult to disinfect, or expensive, ranging from $1,000 to $25,000
in price. According to Mitchell, this unit has about $50 worth of parts.
Performance tests suggest the electrostatic sampling device, if operated for
two hours or more, can provide the equivalent of a High Volume Air Sampler. The
device has a patent pending and is available for licensing.
more about the research in the October 2005 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief in-house scientific research agency.