[Fungi and bacteria on air filters from heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems: a method for determination of fungi and bacteria on air filters]

M Möritz, H Martiny
Zentralblatt Für Hygiene und Umweltmedizin, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine 1997, 199 (6): 513-26
A method was developed for the determination of microorganism concentrations on air filters of HVAC systems, and the influence of different test parameters on the microbiological results was examined by considering various used air filters from several such systems. Microorganisms are detected by shaking air filter samples in fluid, where their concentration is then determined as surface cultures. Since varying the shaking time (30, 60, 90 min) had no influence on the quantitative microorganism determination, a shaking time of 60 minutes was chosen for detection of bacteria, yeasts and moulds. Incubation of blood agar plates either for 4 days at 20 degrees C +/- 2 degrees C or for 2 days at 36 degrees C +/- 1 degree C yielded identical concentrations of bacteria and yeasts. Since results obtained with malt extract agar and Czapek-Dox agar are comparable, one of the two culture media is sufficient for the quantitative determination of moulds on air filters. For statistical evaluation, the inoculation of three parallel agar plates per growth medium was found to be adequate, and the arithmetic mean and the median proved to be equivalent. Investigation on the detection rate showed that, on the average, the method developed demonstrated 80% of the microorganisms detectable on an air filter sample. Thus a simple method is available for quantitative determination of microorganisms on air filters.

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