Optimizing the recovery of surrogates for bacterial bioterrorism agents from ventilation filters

Seung Won Kim, Peter C Raynor, Thomas H Kuehn, Sagar M Goyal, M. A. Ramakrishnan, Senthilvelan Anantharaman, James E. Farnsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) filters have the potential to serve as long-term integrated samplers for biological particles that may be released intentionally or unintentionally into a public building. Methods for eluting bacteria that are surrogates for potential bioterrorism agents from HVAC filters were tested for their ability to recover as high a percentage of culturable bacteria as possible. A solution of 0. 02% Tween-80 in water was an effective eluent for Bacillus globigii (BG) spores whereas phosphate-buffered saline was the most effective eluent for vegetative bacteria. Hand shaking was a more effective agitation method for high recovery rates than vortexing or mechanical shaking. The results indicate that BG spores can be eluted successfully while maintaining essentially 100% culturability. The recovery of the vegetative bacteria Mannheimia haemolytica and Yersinia ruckeri was 80% or higher under optimal conditions. The culturability of the vegetative bacteria eluted from HVAC filters declined substantially within as little as 2 h after the bacteria were loaded onto the filter. The culturability of the BG spores eluted from filters exhibited an exponential decay subsequent to loading with a half-life of 8-9 days.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-608
Number of pages8
JournalClean - Soil, Air, Water
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Bacteria
  • Bioaerosol
  • Bioterrorism
  • Filters
  • HVAC


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