Scoping studies to establish the capability and utility of a real-time bioaerosol sensor to characterise emissions from environmental sources

Zaheer Ahmad Nasir*, Enda Hayes, Ben Williams, Toni Gladding, Catherine Rolph, Shagun Khera, Simon Jackson, Allan Bennett, Samuel Collins, Simon Parks, Alexis Attwood, Robert P. Kinnersley, Kerry Walsh, Sonia Garcia Alcega, Simon J.T. Pollard, Gill Drew, Frederic Coulon, Sean Tyrrel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


A novel dual excitation wavelength based bioaerosol sensor with multiple fluorescence bands called Spectral Intensity Bioaerosol Sensor (SIBS) has been assessed across five contrasting outdoor environments. The mean concentrations of total and fluorescent particles across the sites were highly variable being the highest at the agricultural farm (2.6 cm−3 and 0.48 cm−3, respectively) and the composting site (2.32 cm−3 and 0.46 cm−3, respectively) and the lowest at the dairy farm (1.03 cm−3 and 0.24 cm−3, respectively) and the sewage treatment works (1.03 cm−3 and 0.25 cm−3, respectively). In contrast, the number-weighted fluorescent fraction was lowest at the agricultural site (0.18) in comparison to the other sites indicating high variability in nature and magnitude of emissions from environmental sources. The fluorescence emissions data demonstrated that the spectra at different sites were multimodal with intensity differences largely at wavelengths located in secondary emission peaks for λex 280 and λex 370. This finding suggests differences in the molecular composition of emissions at these sites which can help to identify distinct fluorescence signature of different environmental sources. Overall this study demonstrated that SIBS provides additional spectral information compared to existing instruments and capability to resolve spectrally integrated signals from relevant biological fluorophores could improve selectivity and thus enhance discrimination and classification strategies for real-time characterisation of bioaerosols from environmental sources. However, detailed lab-based measurements in conjunction with real-world studies and improved numerical methods are required to optimise and validate these highly resolved spectral signatures with respect to the diverse atmospherically relevant biological fluorophores.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment, The
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council [ NE/M01163/1 ]. This award is made under the auspices of the Environmental Microbiology and Human Health programme. This work represents the views of the results and the research and not the views of the funders. The comments from Darrel Baumgardner (Droplet Measurement Technologies) are gratefully acknowledged. The data will be available on 1ST July 2020 via the Environmental Information Data Centre, the Natural Environment Research Council's long-term data repository for terrestrial and freshwater sciences .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors


  • Bioaerosols
  • Emissions characterisation
  • Fluorescence spectra
  • Real-time monitoring


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