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Effectiveness of Germicidal UV Radiation for Reducing Fungal Contamination within Air-Handling Units


Abstract and Figures

Levels of fungi growing on insulation within air-handling units (AHUs) in an office building and levels of airborne fungi within AHUs were measured before the use of germicidal UV light and again after 4 months of operation. The fungal levels following UV operation were significantly lower than the levels in control AHUs.
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0099-2240/01/$04.000 DOI: 10.1128/AEM.67.8.3712–3715.2001
Aug. 2001, p. 3712–3715 Vol. 67, No. 8
Copyright © 2001, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
Effectiveness of Germicidal UV Radiation for Reducing Fungal
Contamination within Air-Handling Units
Faculty of Biological Science
and Department of Chemical Engineering,
The University of Tulsa,
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104, and Steril-Aire, Inc., Cerritos, California 90703
Received 27 October 2000/Accepted 16 May 2001
Levels of fungi growing on insulation within air-handling units (AHUs) in an office building and levels of
airborne fungi within AHUs were measured before the use of germicidal UV light and again after 4 months of
operation. The fungal levels following UV operation were significantly lower than the levels in control AHUs.
Fungal contamination of air-handling units (AHUs) is a
widespread phenomenon in buildings with central heating,
ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and is a
potential source of contamination for occupied spaces (1, 8, 16,
20). Fungi have been found growing on air filters, insulation,
and cooling coils, as well as in ducts. This contamination often
contributes to building-related diseases, including both infec-
tious diseases and hypersensitivity diseases, such as allergic
rhinitis, asthma, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis (4, 11, 13).
In addition, acute toxicosis and cancer have been attributed to
respiratory exposure to mycotoxins (5).
Control of fungi in indoor environments has traditionally
focused on source control, ventilation, and air cleaning. Source
control emphasizes the reduction or elimination of moisture to
limit fungal growth. Although this can be effective in many
areas, it is not achievable in HVAC systems during cooling. By
design, air-conditioning systems cause moisture to condense
from air. As a result, other methods are needed to reduce
fungal contamination. Ventilation relies on using filtered out-
door and recirculated indoor air. Ventilation is ineffective,
however, when unfiltered outdoor air introduces outdoor bio-
aerosols or when the HVAC system itself is contaminated. Air
cleaning has focused on using properly maintained high-quality
filters within HVAC systems as well as portable air-cleaning
devices. Recently, there has been renewed interest in the use of
germicidal UV irradiation to disinfect indoor environments for
control of infectious diseases in hospitals, other health care
facilities, and public shelters (14, 15, 18, 19).
Although it has been known for many years that UV light
has various effects on fungi (3, 9, 10), only a few studies have
specifically focused on the effects of germicidal UV light (2, 7,
12, 17, 22, 23). Currently, various manufacturers are marketing
germicidal UV lamps for controlling contamination, including
fungal contamination in indoor environments, as well as AHUs
and ducts. Studies have shown that these measures may be
effective for controlling the spread of bacterial diseases (14, 15,
18, 19); however, little is known about the effectiveness of
UV-C radiation for controlling fungal contamination. The
present investigation was undertaken to determine the effec-
tiveness of germicidal UV radiation for reducing fungal con-
tamination within AHUs.
This investigation was conducted in a 286,000 square-foot
office building in Tulsa, Okla. The building was originally con-
structed in the 1920s and was completely remodeled in 1976.
Each floor of this four-story building is equipped with four
primary AHUs and two perimeter units; these units were in-
stalled when the building was remodeled. Beginning in 1996,
the air handlers were retrofitted with germicidal UV lamps.
During the fall of 1996 all the AHUs in the building were
inspected. At this time UV lamps were installed in AHUs on
one floor, and work was progressing to install them on a second
floor. Acoustical insulation within many of the AHUs exhibited
abundant mold growth, as did drain pans. Preliminary air sam-
ples and insulation samples were collected to develop the sam-
pling protocols used in this study.
AHUs on two floors were selected for further investigation;
no UV lamps had been installed in these AHUs. The floors
were designated the study floor and the control floor. Only the
four main AHUs on each of these floors were used for the
remainder of the investigation. In May 1997, air samples and
insulation samples were collected from the eight AHUs. UV
lamps were installed on both floors, but they were activated
only in the AHUs on the study floor. Each AHU was retrofit-
ted with 10 lamps, which were installed downstream of the
coils. The output of each lamp was 158 W/cm
for every 2.54 cm of tube length at 1 m (21). The
lamps were operated 24 h a day throughout the summer and
early fall in the AHUs on the study floor. On the control floor,
no UV lights were operated. Throughout the building, air
conditioning was in use during this period. In late September,
samples were collected from all eight AHUs.
Preliminary data showed that air sampling in the AHUs
conducted while the AHUs were running resulted in collection
of few or no fungal spores because the high airflow rate pro-
duced nonisokinetic conditions. For this reason the supply fan
in each AHU was shut off prior to sampling. Although this
action caused some mechanical disturbance, it provided a
method for estimating the potential load of fungal propagules
available for dispersal.
Air samples were collected in duplicate by using paired sin-
gle-stage Andersen (N-6) samplers with malt extract agar
* Corresponding author. Mailing address: Faculty of Biological Sci-
ence, The University of Tulsa, 600 S. College, Tulsa, OK 74104. Phone:
(918) 631-2764. Fax: (918) 631-2762. E-mail: estelle-levetin@utulsa
Present address: Department of Environmental Health, Harvard
School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115.
plates for viable fungi and paired Burkard personal samplers
for total spores. Two-minute Andersen samples and 5-min
Burkard samples were collected approximately 40 cm down-
stream of the cooling coils 30 s after the supply air fan in each
AHU was turned off. All samples were started simultaneously,
but the Andersen samplers were switched off after 2 min.
Samples were obtained from each AHU at least twice in both
the spring and the fall.
Plates from the Andersen samplers were incubated at room
temperature for 5 to 7 days. Colonies were counted, fungi were
identified, and concentrations were expressed in CFU per cu-
bic meter of air. Burkard slides were made permanent by using
a lactophenol-polyvinyl alcohol mounting medium, and the
slides were examined microscopically at a magnification of
1,000. Spores were identified and counted. Counts were con-
verted into atmospheric concentrations and expressed in num-
bers of spores per cubic meter of air. Data from all samples for
each AHU were averaged for each time period.
For each AHU, pieces of fiberglass insulation (approximate-
ly 60 cm
) were cut from the insulation directly opposite the
cooling coils, approximately 1 m from the base, 2 m from the
end wall, and less than 30 cm from the UV lights. The insula-
tion samples were individually sealed in sterile plastic bags for
transport to the laboratory. In the laboratory, a smaller square
of each insulation sample (6.5 cm
) was cut from the center of
the larger piece. The small square was soaked in 10 ml of
sterile distilled water for 20 min. The suspension was vortexed
for 30 s and then dilution plated in triplicate on malt extract
agar plates. The plates were incubated at room temperature
for 5 to 7 days. Colonies were counted, fungi were identified,
and concentrations were expressed in CFU per square centi-
meter. Data from replicate samples were averaged for each
For each type of sample collected (viable spores, total
spores, and insulation) the concentrations obtained for each
AHU were averaged to determine means for the study floor
and means for the control floor. Mann-Whitney U tests were
used to compare the means in May and in September by using
Statistica 5.0 software.
The dominant fungi found within the AHUs for both the air
samples and the insulation samples included Penicillium cory-
lophyllum, Aspergillus versicolor, and a strain of an unidentified
Cladosporium species which was somewhat similar to Clado-
sporium sphaerospermum (6) and may be a strain of this spe-
cies. These three taxa accounted for more than 90% of all
viable fungi isolated. Other fungi identified included Acremo-
nium spp., Cladosporium cladosporioides, Cladosporium spha-
erospermum, Cladosporium elatum, and Hyalodendron sp. Occa-
sionally other Aspergillus and Penicillium species also occurred
in the samples.
In May before the UV lights were turned on, the mean
concentrations of the total fungi isolated from the insulation
samples on the two floors were similar (Table 1), and there was
no significant difference (P0.05). In the fall the mean con-
centration on the study floor had decreased, while on the
control floor the concentrations had increased and were sig-
nificantly greater than the concentrations on the study floor
(P0.05). In September the mean concentrations of both A.
versicolor and the unknown Cladosporium species were signif-
icantly lower in the AHUs on the study floor (P0.05).
Similar results were obtained with the air samples (Table 2).
In the spring before the UV lights were turned on, the mean
concentrations of total viable airborne fungi in the AHUs on
the two floors were not significantly different (P0.05). In the
fall, the mean concentration of viable fungi in the AHUs on
study floor was an order of magnitude lower, while on the
control floor the concentration of viable fungi in the AHUs
had increased. The total concentrations of viable fungi in the
AHUs on the study floor and the control floor in the fall were
significantly different (P0.05). Because many of the AHUs
contained high concentrations of viable fungi, there were fre-
quently multiple impactions and multiple colonies at each im-
paction point on a culture plate. As a result, it was not always
possible to identify each colony to the species level. Therefore,
the concentration data in Table 2 are only genus level data.
The concentrations of Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Cladospo-
rium were significantly lower in the AHUs on the study floor
than in the AHUs on the control floor after the use of UV
lights (P0.05).
The total spore levels obtained with the Burkard samplers
TABLE 1. Mean concentrations of fungi isolated from insulation samples in AHUs before and after installation of germicidal UV lamps
Fungal taxon isolated
Concn (10
Study floor
Control floor
September May
Acremonium 0.65 (0.65) 5.81 (5.81) 23.81 (23.68)
Aspergillus versicolor 64.87 (38.56)
0.96 (0.56)
87.58 (32.95) 1,765.46 (1,702.1)
Cladosporium (unknown) 135.28 (50.38) 8.42 (5.22)
22.68 (10.19) 95.31 (37.74)
Cladosporium cladosporioides 0.26 (0.26) 5.04 (5.04) 0.65 (0.39) 228.59 (226.92)
Cladosporium (other) 0.13 (0.13) 1.72 (1.60)
Curvularia 0.05 (0.05)
Hyalodendron 4.65 (3.84) 13.95 (13.95) 83.96 (83.10) 109.66 (72.09)
Penicillium 8.16 (4.35) 1.05 (0.63) 9.27 (8.11) 16.0 (15.59)
Sporothrix 0.01 (0.01)
Nonsporulating colonies 0.04 (0.04) 1.94 (1.94)
Total 213.27 (82.53) 30.51 (24.85)
211.89 (130.80) 2,240.55 (1,622.4)
UV lamps were used only on the study floor.
May concentrations were measured before the UV lamps were turned on.
Mean (standard error).
The concentrations on the control floor and the study floor were significantly different after the use of germicidal UV lamps (P0.05).
were far greater than the viable spore levels (Table 3). Prior to
the use of UV lights, there was not a significant difference (P
0.05) between the mean levels of total spores in the AHUs on
the two floors. In September, the total concentrations on the
study floor were significantly lower than the total concentra-
tions on the control floor (P0.05). The fungal taxa identified
were consistent with the data obtained with the Andersen
sampler and also with the insulation data. However, because it
is not possible to differentiate Penicillium and Aspergillus
conidia without conidiophores, the two genera are combined
as Penicillium-Aspergillus in Table 3. The concentrations of
Cladosporium and Penicillium-Aspergillus on the two floors
were significantly different in September (P0.05).
The types of fungi found in the air samples were the same as
the types found in the insulation. Outdoor fungal taxa were
rarely found in either the control floor AHUs or the study floor
AHUs. This suggests that few outdoor spores passed through
the filters in the units and also that the source of the airborne
spores was the contaminated insulation in the units when dis-
turbance occurred, such as the disturbance caused when the
supply fans were shut off. As a result, we cannot say that the
UV-C radiation had a direct effect on spores in the air stream.
In addition, the effectiveness of UV lamps seemed to be local-
ized, because visual inspection indicated that there was con-
spicuous fungal growth in the downstream duct insulation lin-
ing. Nevertheless, the significant decrease in the insulation
certainly had an impact on the resultant air stream and also
had an impact on downstream concentrations. Further studies
are needed to examine downstream effects and the resultant
air quality in occupied spaces, especially in problem buildings.
The results of this study were similar to the results of a pilot
study performed by Menzies et al. (17). These authors found
that using germicidal UV lamps resulted in elimination of
bacterial and fungal growth on surfaces within an AHU. How-
ever, the study of Menzies et al. was performed from October
to December in Montreal, Canada, when operation of the
HVAC system in the heating mode would normally result in
reduced contamination. During the preliminary phase of this
study in 1996, we found that once the units were switched from
the air-conditioning mode to the heating mode, fungal con-
tamination dramatically decreased.
While the present investigation indicated that concentra-
tions of fungi were significantly lower when UV lamps were in
use, the study did not show what stages of fungal growth were
most susceptible, nor did it show whether there was a reduction
in spore viability. Also, we were not able to show if all the fungi
obtained from the AHUs were susceptible to the UV light. In
addition, this study was limited to the species found in the
building investigated. Asthana and Tuveson (2) showed that
germicidal effects were highly selective for certain species.
Clearly, more work is needed to determine the direct effects of
UV-C radiation on fungi capable of growing in HVAC systems.
In summary, this study indicated that germicidal UV irradi-
ation may be an effective approach for reducing fungal con-
tamination within AHUs. The use of germicidal UV lamps in
AHUs resulted in significantly lower levels of fungal contam-
ination in the fiberglass insulation lining of study floor AHUs
than in the insulation of control floor units. Also, there were
significantly lower levels of viable and total airborne fungi than
in the study floor units than in the control floor units when
samples were taken during periods of disturbance.
Partial support for this project was provided by a grant from Steril-
Aire, Inc., Cerritos, Calif.
We thank Melinda Sterling Sullivan, Jodi Keller, and Mary Petty-
john for assisting with sampling and/or culturing activities. We also
acknowledge the unending support and accommodations provided by
Tom McKain, Building Supervisor, and Argel Johnson, Maintenance
Director, throughout this study.
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TABLE 2. Mean concentrations of viable airborne fungi during
disturbance sampling within AHUs before and after installation of
germicidal UV lamps
Fungal taxon
Concn (10
Study floor
Control floor
September May
Acremonium 0.11 (0.10)
0.16 (0.10) 0.10 (0.10)
Alternaria 0.02 (0.01) 0.01 (0.01) 0.02 (0.01)
Aspergillus 3.08 (2.58) 0.91 (0.48)
1.89 (0.27) 7.46 (3.37)
Cladosporium 15.64 (8.83) 1.28 (0.5)
14.75 (9.25) 11.87 (1.99)
Epicoccum 0.04 (0.04)
Humicola 0.01 (0.01)
Hyalodendron 0.07 (0.03) 0.02 (0.02)
Penicillium 2.18 (0.28) 0.68 (0.28)
5.39 (2.36) 220.05 (63.06)
Sporothrix 0.11 (0.11)
Yeast 0.10 (0.03) 0.05 (0.02) 0.06 (0.03)
Nonsporulating 0.33 (0.09) 0.06 (0.02) 0.25 (0.03)
Total 21.65 (11.27) 2.98 (1.06)
22.55 (11.1) 239.52 (58.55)
UV lamps were used only on the study floor.
May concentrations were measured before the UV lamps were turned on.
Mean (standard error).
Concentrations on the control floor and the study floor were significantly
different after the use of germicidal UV lamps (P0.05).
TABLE 3. Concentrations of total airborne fungal spores during
disturbance sampling within AHUs before and after installation of
germicidal UV lamps
Fungal taxon
Concn (10
Study floor
Control floor
September May
Alternaria 0.04 (0.03)
Cladosporium 29.54 (8.75) 5.43 (3.35)
19.00 (14.16) 68.42 (30.91)
27.49 (20.92) 6.69 (2.09)
5.63 (2.55) 185.56 (52.51)
Ascospores 0.01 (0.01) 0.01 (0.01) 0.03 (0.01)
Basidiospores 0.12 (0.06) 0.04 (0.02) 0.05 (0.03) 0.06 (0.04)
Smuts 0.03 (0.01) 0.01 (0.01) 0.04 (0.02)
Other 0.70 (0.25) 0.24 (0.06) 0.47 (0.2) 1.46 (1.09)
Total 57.92 (25.09) 12.41 (4.47)
25.19 (16.73) 255.54 (82.27)
UV lamps were used only on the study floor.
May concentrations were measured before the UV lamps were turned on.
Mean (standard error).
Concentrations on the control floor and the study floor were significantly
different after the use of germicidal UV lamps (P0.05).
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... The above results confirm and support previous studies about the use of UV light as germicidal or disinfectant (Reed, 2010). The comparison between the results of the gram staining technique on fomites of selected samples shows that UV lights have germicidal properties, which can eliminate bacteria and microbes (Levetin, et al. 2001). Furthermore, the results confirm that UV light technology can be used for disinfection purposes (Menzies, et al. 2003). ...
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Abstract. Modern buildings without air conditioning are unimaginable. This made them closely related to indoor air quality, especially microbial content. Filters and ducts of AC are colonized by microorganisms, and the air flowing from the AC will carry fungal structures that affect human health. Forty indoor air samples were collected by the plate exposure method from the air current of conditioners in classrooms/secondary school. Samples were collected at the start of operation (S1) and two hours after (S2). This study aimed to isolate and identify of fungi from AC air current, and analysis of the fungal community, as well as in vitro antifungal exam of eight oil vapor against Aspergillus niger. Oils of Hacinathus sp., Cymbopogon citratus, Myrtus communis, Eucalyptus sp., Laurus nobilis, Cinnamon sp., Rosemary officinalis, and Cyperus rotundus were used. Eight fungal genera were listed from a total of 355 fungal colonies: Aspergillus (4 sp.), Penicillium sp, Cladosporium sp, Mucor sp, Alternaria, Geotrichum, Candida, Rhodotorula, besides sterile mycelia. From S1 and S2 samples, 189 colonies (8 genera), and 83 colonies (5 genera) were recognized respectively. Aspergilli showed the highest occurrence of 100% and frequency76.4%. All examined vapor reduced growth of A. niger , C. citratus, Eucalyptus sp., and Cinnamon sp. oils gave the highest significant antifungal activity in comparison with control. It was realized that ACs are an effective source of indoor airborne fungi, and eco-friendly materials have shown significant antifungal activity. They can be the choice of the future.
... Contrarily, in-duct UV systems consists of one or more high-irradiance UV-C lamps installed in the ventilation duct to inactivate pathogens in the supplied air and on the duct surface. Because in-duct irradiation takes place outside occupied rooms, it can be done centrally for multiple rooms (Levetin et al., 2001). Simultaneously, in-duct UVGI reduces maintenance need as the interior surfaces of the ventilation duct are also disinfected (Kowalski, 2011). ...
... Many of these fungal spores have been tested under UV exposure and had their susceptibilities quantified (Kowalski 2009). Although fungal spores are more resistant to UV than vegetative bacteria, they can be destroyed on the surfaces of cooling coils and air handling equipment which reduces airborne levels of fungi throughout the building (Levetin 2001). Airborne fungal spores can be easily removed by MERV filters (i.e. a MERV 13 filter) and the combination of UV and MERV filters is ideal for removing airborne microorganisms (Kowalski 2021). ...
Technical Report
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The effects of ultraviolet light on allergens
... Some UV lamps are used as a source of UV radiation. Many studies have reported the germicidal effect of UV lamps installed with AHU [76,77]. Germicidal UV radiation disrupts the DNA of microbes. ...
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Bioaerosols are present everywhere around us, either on surfaces or in the air. Depending on their nature, these bioaerosols have positive or negative impacts on our bodies. Our immune system always creates a balance in our health system in response to these bioaerosols. If our body’s immune system is compromised for a while, it could have many severe health complications. A good example is in patients who recovered from COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic. During treatment, many drugs like dexamethasone, tocilizumob, itolizumab, and steroids were extensively used that suppressed the immune system, resulting in many fungal infections. In this review, we summarise the various studies carried out throughout the globe regarding fungal infection, including Mucormycetes (black fungus), Candida spp., Aspergillus fumigatus, and pneumocystis jirovecii. The patient disease history and treatment details were also examined so as to develop the risk of mortality. Populations with other pre-existing diseases such as diabetes and asthma are more vulnerable to infection. These infections spread at a very high rate and have a high risk of mortality in patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Earnest attention is needed regarding the treatment procedure of COVID-19 patients and for the follow-up of recovered patients. Here, we suggest some treatment methods that will help prevent infection in patients who have recovered from COVID-19 or in immunosuppressed bodies.
... This is in contrast to air transport systems, which use HEPA filters (effective from 0.01 micron) to clean the air before recycling it. Despite the target size range for particle filtration being greater than many microorganisms, the filters within HVAC systems have been shown to harbour potentially harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses that can lead to subsequent pollution of the air environment [22][23][24] . ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the real need for mechanisms to control the spread of airborne respiratory pathogens. Thus, preventing the spread of disease from pathogens has come to the forefront of the public consciousness. This has brought an increasing demand for novel technologies to prioritise clean air. In this study we report on the efficacy of novel biocide treated filters and their antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi and viruses. The antimicrobial filters reported here are shown to kill pathogens, such as Candida albicans, Escherichia coli and MRSA in under 15 min and to destroy SARS-CoV-2 viral particles in under 30 s following contact with the filter. Through air flow rate testing, light microscopy and SEM, the filters are shown to maintain their structure and filtration function. Further to this, the filters are shown to be extremely durable and to maintain antimicrobial activity throughout the operational lifetime of the product. Lastly, the filters have been tested in field trials onboard the UK rail network, showing excellent efficacy in reducing the burden of microbial species colonising the air conditioning system.
Ultraviolet (UV, 200–400 nm) persistent luminescence (PersL) is an emerging topic of luminescent materials due to their “self‐sustainable” high‐photon‐energy characteristics. Although the family of UV PersL materials is fast‐growing, especially in the past few years, an overview on the current status in terms of material development, mechanism investigation, promising applications, research challenges, future directions, and the correlations of these aspects is absent. Many potential applications of UV PersL have recently been demonstrated and proposed depending on where UV PersL falls in the UVA (315–400 nm), UVB (280–315 nm), or UVC (200–280 nm) range. Hence, here the state‐of‐the‐art UV PersL materials, the theoretical and experimental attempts and explanations of UV PersL mechanisms, and strategies utilized to improve UV PersL performance are summarized. Also their unprecedented application promises spanning “solar‐blind” tagging (“glow‐in‐the‐bright” tagging), persistent disinfection, persistent photocatalysis, and “device‐free” skin phototherapy that are beyond the capabilities of the “glow‐in‐the‐dark” visible and infrared PersL are discussed. Facing challenges in understanding their complicated mechanisms, meeting their high charging requirement, and easing the public concerns, a bright future for UV PersL materials from lab to market is envisaged. To provide an overview on the fast‐growing family of UV persistent luminescence (PersL) materials in the past few years, the authors summarize the state‐of‐the‐art UV PersL materials with theoretical and experimental attempts and explanations of UV PersL mechanisms, strategies to improve UV PersL performance, unprecedented application promises, faced challenges, and future research and development directions.
The article describes a model for calculating the killing ratio of different pathogens with an in-duct ultraviolet (UV) device. The model is based on the radiosity method adapted for the UV radiation range and can be used for analyzing any lamp distribution. The paper provides the necessary view factors and the influence of environmental variables (temperature, humidity and air velocity) in the analysis. The model has been validated using the results of four commercial equipment certificates issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The model results show a high precision on the test results, with a maximum deviation of 9%. In all cases, the model results are lower than that of the test, which allows being on the side of safety in the design. The model has been programmed in software used by Steril-Air for designing its equipment. Finally, an example of calculating the SARS-CoV-2 killing ratio with a 4 × 2 lamps arrangement is shown.
The advent of recombinant DNA technology fundamentally altered the drug discovery landscape, replacing traditional small-molecule drugs with protein and peptide-based biologics. Being susceptible to degradation via the oral route, biologics require comparatively invasive injections, most commonly by intravenous infusion (IV). Significant academic and industrial efforts are underway to replace IV transport with subcutaneous delivery by wearable infusion devices. To further complement the ease-of-use and safety of disposable infusion devices, surface disinfection of the drug container can be automated. For ease of use, the desired injector is a combination device, where the drug is inside the injector as a single solution combination device. The main obstacle of the desired solution is the inability to sterilize both injector and drug in the same chamber or using the same method (Gamma for the drug and ETO for the injector). This leads to the assembly of both drug container and injector after sterilization, resulting in at least one transition area that is not sterilized. To automate the delivery of the drug to the patient, a disinfection step before the drug delivery through the injector is required on the none-sterilized interface. As an innovative solution, the autoinjector presented here is designed with a single ultraviolet light-emitting diode (UV LED) for surface disinfection of the drug container and injector interface. In order to validate microbial disinfection similar to ethanol swabbing on the injector, a bacterial 3 or 6 log reduction needed to be demonstrated. However, the small disinfection chamber surfaces within the device are incapable of holding an initial bacterial load for demonstrating the 3 or 6 log reduction, complicating the validation method, and presenting a dilemma as to how to achieve the log reduction while producing real chamber conditions. The suggested solution in this paper is to establish a correlation model between the UV irradiance distribution within the disinfection chamber and a larger external test setup, which can hold the required bacterial load and represents a worse-case test scenario. Bacterial log reduction was subsequently performed on nine different microorganisms of low to high UV-tolerance. The procedure defined herein can be adopted for other surface or chamber disinfection studies in which the inoculation space is limited.
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As a result of the recent resurgence in tuberculosis (TB) and the increasing incidence of multidrug-resistant TB, there has been renewed interest in engineering controls to reduce the spread of TB and other airborne infectious diseases in high-risk settings. Techniques such as the use of lamps that produce ultraviolet germicidal radiation may reduce exposure to infectious agents by inactivating or killing microorganisms while they are airborne. We designed and evaluated a test method to quantitatively estimate the efficacy of germicidal lamps, in conjunction with dilution ventilation, for reducing the concentration of viable airborne bacteria. Bacterial particles were generated in a 36m3 room and collected with midget impingers at 5-7 locations. The effectiveness of the control technique was determined by comparing concentrations of culturable airborne bacteria with and without the control in operation. Results for a single, 15 W germicidal lamp showed reductions of 50% for Bacillus subtilis (B. subtilis) and Micrococcus luteus (M. luteus); tests with Escherichia coli (E. coli) showed nearly 100% reduction (E. coli were isolated only from the sampler nearest the aerosol source when the lamp was operating). The addition of louvers to a lamp greatly reduced its efficacy. Decay experiments showed that roughly 4-6 equivalent air changes per hour were achieved for B. subtilis with one or two lamps operating. These preliminary experiments demonstrated that this methodology was well suited for these evaluations and identified factors that could be modified to refine the study design for future work.
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The effectiveness of 254-nm ultraviolet radiation for inactivating airborne microorganisms (and thereby reducing the spread of respiratory infections such as tuberculosis) was evaluated by collecting air samples in an occupied 90-m room equipped with four 15-W wall-mounted germicidal lamps. The indoor concentration of airborne bacteria was positively associated with the number of people present, the concentration of bacteria in the ventilation supply air, and the relative humidity, but was negatively associated with operation of the germicidal lamps and with the number of open windows. A generalized linear model suggested that use of the lamps reduced culturable airborne bacteria by 14 to 19 percent. This degree of air disinfection was calculated to be the equivalent of between 1.5 and 2 air changes per hour (ACHeq). This equivalent ventilation was in addition to the 1 to 2.5 ACH that open windows provided and the 8 ACH that the mechanical ventilation system supplied. The microbicidal effect of the lamps on naturally occurring bacteria in this ventilated and occupied space was approximately one-tenth of the level that was measured for an artificially generated aerosol of Mycobacterium bovis in another study. There are several possible explanations for this smaller than expected effect: (1) the ambient airborne bacteria measured in the current study may have been less sensitive to 254-nm radiation than the M. bovis used in the earlier trial; (2) airborne bacteria may not have remained sufficiently long in the directly irradiated zone near the lamps to receive a bactericidal dose of 254-nm radiation because of the effects on aerosol movement of the open windows and doors, and of the supply air outlet and the exhaust air inlet locations; and (3) although the total wattage from germicidal lamps was higher in this case, low wattage lamps were used, which may not be as effective as higher wattage ones. Users of germicidal lamps should be aware that environmental factors (such as ventilation design and operation, and restrictions on lamp use in order to control occupant exposure) may limit the ability of germicidal lamps to inactivate airborne microorganisms and thus to protect people from airborne infectious agents.
Assessing the role of bioaerosols in residence-related symptoms involves (1) determining that symptoms are related to the residence by medical examination and careful questioning, (2) connecting reported symptoms with known or hypothesized effects of bioaerosols, (3) examining the residence for bioaerosol risk factors such as overcrowding/poor ventilation, inappropriate outdoor air intrusion, and dampness/standing water, (4) and finally, if no obvious risk factors are present, air sampling. Air sampling should always be a last resort and should use a reliable volumetric method. Particulate samplers, such as the Burkard personal spore trap, are inexpensive alternatives to viable particle samplers and will provide data on most organisms implicated in hypersensitivity diseases. Interpretation of residential bioaerosol sample data requires both qualitative and quantitative comparison with adjacent outdoor air and examination of aerosol changes related to domestic activities. Recommendations that should lead to a decrease in indoor bioaerosols include the use of air conditioning to allow limitation of outdoor aerosols, prevention of dampness or moisture intrusion, and discouraging the use of humidifying devices other than steam. Bioaerosol assessment in the workplace is often more complex than for residences. Because the symptomatic subjects are not in charge of the environment, such situations often lead to difficult employee/management relations and occasionally to litigation. It is essential that each step in workplace bioaerosol assessment be defensible and that the best possible methods are used. The approach is similar to the approach used for residences, but on a larger scale. Symptom assessment must include stress and ergonomic factors. Air sampling, if this is necessary, must usually be extensive with controls for ventilation rates, occupancy, and spatial variation.
A heavy infestation of Stachybotrys atra in a house in suburban Chicago has caused chronic health problems for the members of the household. Extracts of the S. atra contaminated household material proved toxic to animals; from these extracts were isolated several highly toxic macrocyclic trichothecenes. After the contaminated duct work, insulation and building material had been replaced, the members of the household no longer complained of illnesses suggestive of trichothecene toxicosis.
Photons in the UV region of the spectrum are important for organisms since they are energy-rich and strongly absorbed by biological molecules having the potential to react with membranes, enzymes, and nucleic acids. These wavelengths can also be absorbed by specific molecules that undergo conversion to a more reactive state (light activation) which can then cause damage to molecules of critical physiological function (phototoxicity). The importance of pigments in two genera of the Citrus pathogens, Fusarium and Penicillium, was assessed for ability to protect against inactivation by UV-A, B, and C and two phototoxins activated by UV-A. Pigment-deficient mutants of both genera were isolated following UV-C mutagenesis. Direct exposure of fungal spores in suspension of wild type and pigment-deficient mutants was carried out under the appropriate light source. The UV-A activated phototoxins investigated were: alpha-terthienyl (alpha-T), which produces predominantly singlet oxygen (O-1(2)), an excited state of oxygen, which causes chiefly membrane damage; and 8-methoxypsoralen (8-MOP), which induces cycloadduct formation in DNA. For both genera, UV-A and UV-B alone were ineffective in causing inactivation of conidia at the fluences tested. Using appropriate Escherichia coli tester strains, it was demonstrated that the UV-B source was capable of inducing DNA lesions leading to lethality, presumably cyclobutane dimers in large measure. The carotenoids in one of the Fusarium species did not appreciably protect against lethal damage induced by UV-C, but the pigments of both Penicillium species were presumably able to screen UV-C and offer protection. It is assumed that the carotenoids in the wild type Fusarium species protected against UV-A activated alpha-T damage by quenching singlet oxygen. The blue-green pigment(s) in P. italicum prevent DNA damage caused by 8-MOP most probably by screening the UV-A wavelengths necessary to activate the phototoxin.
There are several categories of organisms that can grow and/or spread in modern air handling systems: pathogens--viruses, bacteria, and fungi that cause a range of infectious diseases; allergens--bacteria and mold that cause allergic rhinitis, asthma, humidifier fever, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis; toxins--endotoxins and mycotoxins that cause a variety of toxic effects, irritation, and odors. As HVAC systems move large amounts of outdoor and recirculated air through occupied buildings, they become the conduits by which these unhealthful organisms are spread throughout the spaces they serve. A new UVC technology overcomes previous limitations to enhance IAQ control, effectively and efficiently killing microorganisms that grow, disseminate, and circulate in air handling systems.