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a comprehensive assessment of biologicals contained within commercial airliner cabin airBoth culture-based and culture-independent, biomarker-targeted microbial enumeration and identification technologies were employed to estimate total microbial and viral burden and diversity within the cabin air of commercial airliners. Samples from each of twenty flights spanning three commercial carriers were collected via air-impingement. When the total viable microbial population was estimated by assaying relative concentrations of the universal energy carrier ATP, values ranged from below detection limits (BDL) to 4.1 x 106 cells/cubic m of air. The total viable microbial population was extremely low in both of Airline A (approximately 10% samples) and C (approximately 18% samples) compared to the samples collected aboard flights on Airline A and B (approximately 70% samples). When samples were collected as a function of time over the course of flights, a gradual accumulation of microbes was observed from the time of passenger boarding through mid-flight, followed by a sharp decline in microbial abundance and viability from the initiation of descent through landing. It is concluded in this study that only 10% of the viable microbes of the cabin air were cultivable and suggested a need to employ state-of-the art molecular assay that measures both cultivable and viable-but-non-cultivable microbes. Among the cultivable bacteria, colonies of Acinetobacter sp. were by far the most profuse in Phase I, and Gram-positive bacteria of the genera Staphylococcus and Bacillus were the most abundant during Phase II. The isolation of the human pathogens Acinetobacter johnsonii, A. calcoaceticus, Janibacter melonis, Microbacterium trichotecenolyticum, Massilia timonae, Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Corynebacterium lipophiloflavum is concerning, as these bacteria can cause meningitis, septicemia, and a handful of sometimes fatal diseases and infections. Molecular microbial community analyses exhibited presence of the alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta- proteobacteria, as well as Gram-positive bacteria, Fusobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Deinococci, Bacterioidetes, Spirochetes, and Planctomyces in varying abundance. Neisseria meningitidis rDNA sequences were retrieved in great abundance from Airline A followed by Streptococcus oralis/mitis sequences. Pseudomonas synxantha sequences dominated Airline B clone libraries, followed by those of N. meningitidis and S. oralis/mitis. In Phase II, Airline C, sequences representative of more than 113 species, enveloping 12 classes of bacteria, were retrieved. Proteobacterial sequences were retrieved in greatest frequency (58% of all clone sequences), followed in short order by those stemming from Gram-positives bacteria (31% of all clone sequences). As for overall phylogenetic breadth, Gram-positive and alpha-proteobacteria seem to have a higher affinity for international flights, whereas beta-and gamma-proteobacteria are far more common about domestic cabin air parcels in Airline C samples. Ultimately, the majority of microbial species circulating throughout the cabin airs of commercial airliners are commensal, infrequently pathogenic normal flora of the human nasopharynx and respiratory system. Many of these microbes likely originate from the oral and nasal cavities, and lungs of passengers and flight crew and are disseminated unknowingly via routine conversation, coughing, sneezing, and stochastic passing of fomites. The data documented in this study will be useful to generate a baseline microbial population database and can be utilized to develop biosensor instrumentation for monitoring microbial quality of cabin or urban air.
Document ID
20070035874
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Authors
LaDuc, Myron T.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Osman, Shariff
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Dekas, Anne
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Stuecker, Tara
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Newcombe, Dave
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Piceno, Yvette
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Fuhrman, J.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Andersen, Gary
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Venkateswaran, Kasthuri
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Bearman, Greg
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
September 13, 2006
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Meeting Information
Workshop on Aircraft Cabin Air Quality(Washington, DC)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other
Keywords
microbial diversity
air quality
aircraft
burden
microbe