Airborne bacterial and PM characterization in intensive care units: correlations with physical control parameters

S. AlRayess, A. Sleiman, I. Alameddine, A. Abou Fayad, G. M. Matar, M. El-Fadel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    In this study, the spatial variation of airborne bacteria in intensive care units (ICUs) was characterized. Fine particulate matter and several physical parameters were also monitored including temperature and relative humidity. The results showed that the total bacterial load ranged between 20.4 and 134.3 CFU/m3 across the ICUs. Bacterial cultures of the collected samples did not isolate any multi-drug-resistant Gram-negative bacilli indicating the absence of such aerosolized pathogens in the ICUs. Meanwhile, particulate matter levels in several ICUs were found to exceed the international guidelines set for 24-h PM exposure. Moreover, examining bacterial load contribution by size suggested that bacteria with sizes less than 0.65 µm contributed the least to the total bacterial loads, while those with sizes between 0.65 and 1.1 µm contributed the most. A multiple linear regression model was also built to predict the bacterial loads in the ICUs. The regression analysis explained 77% of the variability observed in the measured bacterial concentrations. The model showed that the level of activity in the ICU rooms as well as its occupancy level had strong positive correlations with bacterial loads, while distance away from the patient had a non-linear relationship with measured loads. No statistically significant correlation was found between bacterial load and particulate matter concentrations.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)1869-1880
    Number of pages12
    JournalAir Quality, Atmosphere and Health
    Issue number10
    StatePublished - Oct 2022


    • Airborne bacteria
    • Hospitals
    • Indoor air quality
    • Intensive care units
    • Particulate matter


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