Microbiome surveillance of indoor air for environmental health and occupational hygiene.

Angela Sherry*, Beatriz Delgado Corrales, Kevin Stott, Matthew Crown, Garreth White, Johnathon Acaster, Andrew Brabbs, Blythe Crawford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


The biological component of air is typically overlooked in current environmental health risk assessment procedures, however in light of the Covid-19 pandemic it is imperative to consider the impact of the biological fraction of air on human health. Evidence compiled by DEFRA determined build-up of virus in aerosols in poorly ventilated indoor rooms[1]. However, much remains to be investigated on the biological content of air and interactions between all biological components (e.g. bacteria, fungi, viruses). 

A longitudinal indoor air microbiome study of 11 sites at RAF Leeming was performed. The study aimed to investigate the composition of microbiomes within indoor air in spaces containing a range of ventilation systems and differing levels of occupancy. Concomitant with microbiological sampling, indoor air quality parameters were monitored including volatile organic compounds (VOC), temperature, humidity and CO2.

Bacterial communities were representative of the type of environment being tested, with taxa similar to those found in other air microbiome studies. There were differences in the relative abundance of bacterial communities across the sites, and an obvious contribution to the microbiome from site occupants. Fungal communities included plant pathogens (Mycosphaerella, Itersonilia) and spore-forming taxa ubiquitous to both indoor and outdoor air (Epicoccum, Cladosporium). As well as, Penicillium, Wallemia, which were amongst the most abundant airborne species of fungi identified in indoor air in a previous study of 28 homes [​2].

Ultimately the research could lead to the incorporation of microbiological profiling of indoor air into environmental health and occupational hygiene risk assessment, and holds potential societal impact related to improving workforce health.

[1]DEFRA Air Quality Expert Group, 2020. Estimation of changes in air pollution emissions, concentrations and exposure during the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. Rapid evidence review, June 2020.

[2]Madsen et al., 2016. Appl Environ Microbiol​ 82:2479–2493. 10.1128/AEM.04063-15.​
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2023
EventMicrobiology Society Annual Conference - Birmingham ICC
Duration: 17 Apr 202320 Apr 2023


ConferenceMicrobiology Society Annual Conference
Internet address

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