Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Environmental and Occupational Health

First Committee Member

Linda D. Stetzenbach

Number of Pages



The air quality of both indoor and outdoor environments is a primary human health content, particularly for individuals that have asthma, respiratory ailments and immune disorders. Airborne microorganisms have been shown to cause a variety of diseases, allergic reactions, and irritations. Universal quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) was compared to the traditional methods of culture analysis and microscopy to determine if it was an effective method to quantitate total bacterial counts in environmental air samples. A composite standard curve was developed using four bacterial species and applied to laboratory cultures and environmental air samples. Two hypotheses were tested, (i) to determine if universal QPCR was a more sensitive method to analyze environmental air samples and (ii) if universal QPCR can provide a more accurate measurement of airborne bacteria than culture analysis or microscopy. A total of 22 air samples were collected with an SKC BioSamplerRTM and were analyzed by culture, microscopy and universal QPCR. Results showed microscopy being able to determine higher bacterial concentrations as compared to universal QPCR. However, microscopy may over-estimate those concentrations. It was concluded that universal QPCR was a more sensitive method than culture or microscopy when comparing the lower detection limit (LDL) of each method. Universal QPCR was determined to be a relatively accurate method to assess airborne microbial populations compared to microscopy. Culture analysis cannot determine total bacterial concentrations therefore it was not included when assessing accuracy of universal QPCR. It was also noticed that universal QPCR is not truly universal. Specificity testing revealed that some species did net amplify with universal QPCR. Further research needs be conducted to strengthen the method of universal QPCR.


Air; Bacteria; Chain; Concentration; Environmental; Evaluation; Measuring; Polymerase; Quantitative; Reaction; Samples; Total

Controlled Subject

Public health; Environmental sciences

File Format


File Size

1310.72 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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