Detection and characterisation of inflammatory agents associated with bioaerosol emitted from biowaste and intensive agriculture.

Project details

Funding bodies: NERC and DSTL under the Environmental Microbiology and Human Health Programme (NE/M011631/1)


  • Cranfield University
  • Open University
  • Plymouth University
  • Public Health England
  • Environment Agency

Dates: 2015–2018

Project summary

The biowaste (for example, composting) and intensive agriculture (for example, housed poultry) industries emit bioaerosol of significance to human health. Whilst some progress has been made in characterising emissions from these industries, relatively little headway has been made regarding the linked research questions of:

  • understanding exposure of the general public to bioaerosol
  • putting process-based exposures into the context of background exposure to natural bioaerosol (or other anthropogenic sources)
  • quantifying health risk and setting health-based standards.

A critical limiting factor in all of these areas is the lack of advanced microbiological methods (sampling, analytical, interpretative) to quantify and qualify bioaerosol emissions and dispersion.

Whilst traditional microbiology remains fit for purpose in specific circumstances, new fast and efficient methods are required to understand the nature and significance of non-viable bioaerosol fractions and to develop a new generation of monitoring approaches to deal with the research questions posed above. In this research, we are developing new methodologies capable of characterising and quantifying emissions of endotoxin in air. The project objectives include:

  • developing new methods to size fractionate endotoxin and elucidate structural features
  • developing a novel biosensor for rapid detection of endotoxin, other inflammatory agents and cells (live/dead)
  • using the SIBS real-time bioaerosol sensor to understand emission and dispersion of bioaerosol including endotoxin
  • characterising industry-specific bioaerosol emissions at composting and farm sites
  • detecting microbial pathogens at biowaste and intensive agricultural facilities using novel methods
  • generating improved exposure assessments around biowaste/intensive agricultural facilities using dispersion modelling and Openair (lead by AQMRC).

The results of this project can be found on the UWE Bristol Research Repository.

Please email Professor Enda Hayes at Enda.Hayes@uwe.ac.uk for more details.

You may also be interested in