Field performance of a novel passive bioaerosol sampler using polarized ferroelectric polymer films

Jennifer Therkorn, Nirmala Thomas, Jerry Scheinbeim, Gediminas Mainelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Passive bioaerosol samplers can improve environmental and health protection by enhancing the practicality and cost-effectiveness of air sampling. Here, we present the outdoor field testing of a novel, passive bioaerosol sampler, the Rutgers Electrostatic Passive Sampler (REPS), based on the use of polarized, ferroelectric polymer film (poly(vinylidene fluoride)). Four 10-day-long field campaigns were conducted to compare total (culturable + non-culturable) and culturable bioaerosol collection efficiencies of REPS to passive samplers (PTFE settling filters and agar settling plates). These collection efficiencies were calculated relative to performance of an active, reference Button Sampler. Compared to passive PTFE filters, which exclusively rely on gravitational particle deposition, REPS collected a seven-fold higher total microorganism quantity. Relative to the Button Sampler, REPS collected 25% of the total number of bacteria and fungi and 65% of the culturable bacteria. Furthermore, REPS achieved this performance without any air movers, pumps, batteries, or external power. Since the Button Samplers operated at 4 L/min, REPS was calibrated to have equivalent sampling rates of 2.6 L/min and 1.0 L/min for culturable bacteria and total microorganisms, respectively. These results suggest that REPS can passively collect airborne microorganisms, including culturable bacteria, with high efficiency over long-term sampling durations. REPS can provide better preservation of bacterial culturability because it has no active airflow, which desiccates microbes in active samplers. Since there are limited options available for long-term, unattended bioaerosol sampling, REPS can complement currently available bioaerosol sampling technologies for numerous environmental health applications, such as exposure assessment for epidemiology and monitoring aeroallergen trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-800
Number of pages14
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Pollution


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