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Monitoring Aspergillus fumigatus Aerosols from a Composting Facility

TitleMonitoring Aspergillus fumigatus Aerosols from a Composting Facility
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsSyzdek, LD, Haines, JH
KeywordsAirborne spores, Aspergillus fumigatus, Burkard sampler, Compost Fungi, Hirst sampler

The large, outdoor Islip Yard Waste Composting Facility on Long Island, New York was investigated as a source of airborne fungus spores. The Burkard-Hirst volumetric spore trap was used for the first extensive sampling of small mold spores for this application. Samplers were operated continuously from 21 August to 30 November 1992 in the facility and in a suburban community about 540 m from the facility. A control site approximately 10 000 m from the facility was also sampled to establish background levels of fungus spores. The facility site had higher average readings ofAspergillus fumigatus spores than did the community and both were higher than the control.A. fumigatus was the only fungus among 30 categories tracked that differed significantly between the facility and control sites. It was also isolated repeatedly from the compost. Higher average levels ofA. fumigatus were measured in the community when winds blew from the facility, and also during times when the compost was moved or mixed at the facility. No correlation was found between wind direction or work times andA. fumigatus conidia at the control site. The study shows that this compost facility can produce a measurable increase in the number of airborneA. fumigatus conidia both at the edge of the facility and at 540 m downwind. It also demonstrates that the Burkard spore trap can be used for monitoring small, airborne mold spores, but it is a difficult and labor intensive task.