An excellent workshop summary came out today entitled “Challenges in Microbial Sampling in Indoor Environments”. Download the PDF here This workshop was held Feb 14-15 2011 and was a collaboration between the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), and Yale University.
The purpose of the Challenges in Microbial Sampling in the Indoor Environment Workshop was to explore current aerosol and surface sample collection methods for microbial community quality characterization. This report highlights the current state of aerosol and surface sample collection science for unknown microorganisms in complex indoor environments, identifies needed investment in fundamental research and standards development, and provides guidance based on our current understanding to inform efforts to sample aerosols and surfaces for nucleic acid-based analysis. Invited participants included representatives from academia, industry, and government.
There are numerous issues with sampling in indoor environments, many of which have yet to be resolved. The scope of the problem is well defined in this paragraph from the report:
There are two critical issues when considering the impact buildings have on the microbial populations found within them. The first is that there are many building features that impact microbial growth and transport and that there are important variations in these features among buildings. Second, given that buildings vary in their design, construction and use, building features should be measured as part of indoor environment studies of microbial population characteristics.