Indoor bacterial load and its correlation to physical indoor air quality parameters in public primary schools
Background: Poor indoor air quality is a great problem in schools due to a high number of students per classroom, insufficient outside air supply, poor construction and maintenance of school buildings. Bacteria in the indoor air environment pose a serious health problem. Determination of bacterial load in the indoor environment is necessary to estimate the health hazard and to create standards for indoor air quality control. This is especially important in such densely populated facilities like schools. Methods: Institutional based cross-sectional study was conducted among 51 randomly selected classrooms of eight public primary schools from March 29–April 26, 2018. To determine the bacterial load passive air sampling settle plate method was used by exposing a Petri dish of blood agar media for an hour. The Pearson correlation matrix was employed to assess the correlation between bacterial load and physical parameters. Results: The grand total mean bacterial load was 2826.35 CFU/m3 in the morning and 4514.63 CFU/m3 in the afternoon. The lowest and highest mean bacterial load was recorded at school 3 (450.67 CFU/m3) and school 5 (7740.57 CFU/m3) in the morning and afternoon, respectively. In the morning relative humidity (r = −0.7034), PM2.5 (r = 0.5723) and PM10 (r = 0.6856); in the afternoon temperature (r = 0.3838), relative humidity (r = − 0.4014) were correlated with indoor bacterial load. Staphylococcus aureus, Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus species and Bacillus species were among isolated bacteria. Conclusions: High bacterial load was found in public primary schools in the Gondar city as compared to different indoor air biological standards. Temperature, relative humidity and particulate matter concentration (PM2.5 and PM10) were associated with the indoor bacterial load. Staphylococcus aureus, Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus species and Bacillus species were among isolated bacterial species. Attention should be given to control those physical factors which favour the growth and multiplication of bacteria in the indoor environment of classrooms to safeguard the health of students and teachers in school.
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