Submitted to: ARS Food Safety and Inspection Service Research Workshop
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 6, 2005
Publication Date: August 25, 2005
Citation: Mitchell, B.W., Gast, R.K. 2005. High efficiency electrostatic sampler for bioaerosols. ARS Food Safety and Inspection Service Research Workshop. Technical Abstract: A low-cost, simple, portable electrostatic sampling device (ESD) was developed at the Southeast Poultry Research Lab, USDA – ARS for high efficiency sampling of airborne bacteria, viruses, and spores. The ESD creates a strong electrostatic field close to a grounded media or collector plate causing bioaerosols near the device to be charged and pulled onto the media or collector plate giving the effect of a medium volume air sampler without the need for a mechanical fan. The compact, two pound ESD is battery operated and it is housed in a completely waterproof enclosure such that complete disinfection following use in highly infectious areas can be accomplished easily with a spray disinfectant. The ESD has good potential as an affordable and sensitive detection method for pathogenic strains of microorganisms which may be present in small amounts but difficult to recover by traditional methods such as drag swabs or serum samples. Previous devices with good to high efficiency recovery were typically large and bulky, difficult to disinfect, or expensive -- ranging in price typically from $1,000 up to $25,000 each. The ESD has been tested extensively in clean lab areas, in exhaust air from poultry houses, and in caged layer rooms with birds infected with Salmonella enteritidis where up to 20 fold improvements have been seen compared to standard settling plates and better performance than a well known and widely used medium volume, laboratory-grade, portable impaction sampler costing approximately 100 times as much. The ESD has also been used successfully to capture samples for RT-PCR detection of avian reovirus, avian pneumovirus, Newcastle disease virus, and plant viruses in experimental rooms. Performance tests suggest the ESD – if operated for 2 hours or more can sample a volume of air equivalent to that of a High Volume Air Sampler, and it can be operated for about 16 hours with two standard 9-Volt batteries. Other potential applications for the ESD range from routine monitoring of poultry, livestock, and horticultural areas to epidemiology, processing areas, hospitals, monitoring of public areas for potential bioterrorism attack, and routine air quality surveys in office areas, schools, etc. A patent application has been filed for the ESD, U.S. Patent Application Serial Number 10/670,575, and it is available for licensing.