Award Date

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Environmental and Occupational Health

First Committee Member

L.-W. Antony Chen

Second Committee Member

Mark Buttner

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Pharr

Fourth Committee Member

Vernon Hodge

Number of Pages



Airborne particulate matter (PM) in outdoor environments contains many components that cause adverse human health effects. The size of the particulates determine in what manner the particles would bypass the body’s defense mechanisms to enter the respiratory system and is directly related to their health impacts. Currently the United States Environmental Protection Agency is enforcing the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to regulate the annual and 24-hour average concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 in the air. PM2.5 are fine particles with aerodynamic diameter <2.5μm, small enough to reach the deepest parts of the bronchi and lungs. PM10 include PM2.5 and larger particles with aerodynamic diameter of 2.5-10μm. Both PM2.5 and PM10 contain multiple components from multiple sources. Bioaerosols are an important component of PM, but there is limited knowledge about how bioaerosols contribute to PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations. There is also a lack of research about the incidence and prevalence of disease caused by bioaerosols and about the limits of exposure to bioaerosol particulates. The main barrier to assess bioaerosol concentrations and health-related effects is the absence of quick and inexpensive methodology for quantifying bioaerosols. This study explored the feasibility of using fluorescence microscopy to quickly quantify bioaerosols in PM2.5 and PM10 collected on polycarbonate filters. Bioaerosols were stained with a DNA marker directly on a filter, followed by fixation, microscopic imaging, and automatic counting. The method was first validated using reference samples prepared by depositing different known concentrations of E. coli onto blank polycarbonate filters. The results indicated a linear response over two orders of magnitude (R2 = 0.9) and an accuracy within ±25%. E. coli were also deposited onto selected ambient PM10 and PM2.5 filter samples to determine if pre-loaded particles would interfere with bioaerosol imaging and counting. It was found that despite an increase in uncertainty (variability), the calibration slope remained within ±10% of unity for both PM2.5 and PM10 samples. Bioaerosol concentrations in ambient samples, as quantified by this method, were on average 14% higher for PM10 than for PM2.5 acquired concurrently in a desert environment of Las Vegas, Nevada. The application of this method to other types of compliance filters, such as Teflon filters and tapes of a Beta Attenuation Monitor (BAM) were also explored in this study. By means of a high-yield approach this method is expected to facilitate bioaerosol research, support exposure and health assessments, and help refine NAAQS for PM2.5 and PM10.


Environmental Health | Environmental Health and Protection | Microbiology | Public Health

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit