Walker occupancy has an impact on changing airborne bacterial communities in an underground pedestrian space, as small-dust particles increased with raising both temperature and humidity
by Torahiko Okubo, Takako Osaki, Eriko Nozaki, Akira Uemura, Kouhei Sakai, Mizue Matushita, Junji Matsuo, Shinji Nakamura, Shigeru Kamiya, Hiroyuki YamaguchiAlthough human occupancy is a source of airborne bacteria, the role of walkers on bacterial communities in built environments is poorly understood. Therefore, we visualized the impact of walker occupancy combined with other factors (temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, dust particles) on airborne bacterial features in the Sapporo underground pedestrian space in Sapporo, Japan. Air samples (n = 18; 4,800L/each sample) were collected at 8:00 h to 20:00 h on 3 days (regular sampling) and at early morning / late night (5:50 h to 7:50 h / 22:15 h to 24:45 h) on a day (baseline sampling), and the number of CFUs (colony forming units) OTUs (operational taxonomic units) and other factors were determined. The results revealed that temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure changed with weather. The number of walkers increased greatly in the morning and evening on each regular sampling day, although total walker numbers did not differ significantly among regular sampling days. A slight increase in small dust particles (0.3–0.5μm) was observed on the days with higher temperature regardless of regular or baseline sampling. At the period on regular sampling, CFU levels varied irregularly among days, and the OTUs of 22-phylum types were observed, with the majority being from Firmicutes or Proteobacteria (γ-), including Staphylococcus sp. derived from human individuals. The data obtained from regular samplings reveled that although no direct interaction of walker occupancy and airborne CFU and OTU features was observed upon Pearson's correlation analysis, cluster analysis indicated an obvious lineage consisting of walker occupancy, CFU numbers, OTU types, small dust particles, and seasonal factors (including temperature and humidity). Meanwhile, at the period on baseline sampling both walker and CFU numbers were similarly minimal. Taken together, the results revealed a positive correlation of walker occupancy with airborne bacteria that increased with increases in temperature and humidity in the presence of airborne small particles. Moreover, the results indicated that small dust particles at high temperature and humidity may be a crucial factor responsible for stabilizing the bacteria released from walkers in built environments. The findings presented herein advance our knowledge and understanding of the relationship between humans and bacterial communities in built environments, and will help improve public health in urban communities.
Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article
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