Bioaerosols – What are they and why should we be monitoring them?

Bioaerosols are suspensions of airborne particles that contain living organisms or the non-living parts released from them, such as: Bacteria, Fungi, Viruses and Pollen.

Bioaerosols are very small  in size, allowing them to enter the human body, where they can cause negative reactions. As such, they  have been linked to a number of health concerns.

Why should we monitor Bioaerosols?

Bioaerosols are released from materials containing micro-organisms when they are moved or handled. As such, high concentrations of bioaerosols can be created by industrial processes involving organic matter (as this tends to contain lots of microorganisms). For this reason, intensive animal agriculture and waste treatment processes (particularly those for organic waste – compost, AD, and MBT) can all present bioaerosol risks.

Bioaerosol concentrations often exceed 1-2 hundred times their environmental exposure limits during certain composting operations!

In line with COSHH, bioaerosol exposure must be adequately controlled as far as is reasonably practicable. As such, it is crucial to monitor bioaerosol concentrations at areas where they are expected to be high. Bioaerosol monitoring measures the bioaerosol concentrations at sensitive receptors – dwellings or workplaces – near sites (environmental monitoring), or assesses the concentrations that site staff are exposed to (occupational monitoring).

Motivation Factors – Why it’s important to monitor bioaerosols

•Legal: they need to comply with permits, or gain licenses, or because of an absolute duty to ensure suitable risk assessments are conducted

•Financial: the costs of not monitoring (& managing) bioaerosols could be far higher than the costs of doing so – sites can be fined, or even face lawsuits

•Moral: obligation to not cause harm to the environment, or put employees at risk

•Functional: by protecting others, it is less likely that operations will be disrupted (e.g. by complaints or staff sickness). Also, monitoring bioaerosols helps improve workplace welfare, and higher welfare is linked to better productivity

How can Albion Environmental help?

Albion Environmental Ltd offer a comprehensive range of bioaerosol services, each of which can be tailored specifically to a clients needs. Our focus on the client allows us to provide bioaerosol work in a timely and flexible manner, and with minimal disruption to the normal operations of the clients.

By following AfOR & M9 industry standards, we can ensure that our results and recommendations are accurate. Additionally, we have built a partnership with internationally renowned experts in this area, in order to strive for excellence in our work, and also bring innovation to this niche aspect of environmental monitoring.

Want to find out more? You can email Jennifer Kowalski – jennifer@albion-environmental.co.uk Or click here.