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Effect of a Diffused Essential Oil Blend on Bacterial Bioaerosols

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Abstract

Thieves, a commercial blend of five essential oils, was tested for its antibacterial activity against Micrococcus luteus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus bioaerosols. An aerosol suspension of each bacterial culture was sprayed into a 0.4 m3 enclosed fume hood previously sterilized by ultraviolet light. Thieves essential oil blend was then diffused into the hood for a given time. Depositional sampling results showed a significant reduction (P<0.0001) in the aerosol-borne bacterial load after diffusion of the oil blend. Controls showed no inhibitory effect of oil that may have settled on the exposed plate surfaces during bacterial depositional sampling. Inhibition levels appear to be organism specific. There was an 82% reduction in M. luteus bioaerosol, a 96% reduction in the P. aeruginosa bioaerosol, and a 44% reduction in the S. aureus bioaerosol following 10 min of exposure. Results for the time exposure threshold of diffused oil showed that after only six min a 90% reduction in M. luteus viability occurred. Diffusion of the oil blend, Thieves, can significantly reduce the number of aerosol-borne bacteria and may have application in treating air for enclosed environments and preventing transmission of aerosol-borne bacterial pathogens.

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