You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer browsing experience, upgrade for free today.

The problem of hygienic standardization of air concentration of microorganisms in office premises

ISSN 2223-6775 Ukrainian journal of occupational health Vol.18, No 2, 2022

The problem of hygienic standardization of air concentration of microorganisms in office premises

Leonov Yu.I.1, Nazarenko V.I.1, Myshchenko I.2
1State Institution "Kundiev Institute for Occupational Health of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine", Kyiv
2Accredited Laboratory of Occupational Health and Safety, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Wroclaw, Poland

Full article (PDF): ENG / UKR

Introduction. Today there is an urgent need to create regulations governing the level of microorganisms in the air of office premises. This problem in Ukraine did not attract as much attention as it did now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. In other countries, on the other hand, it has not only been the subject of researches for the past 20 years, but has also introduced certain sanitary rules that employers must follow. In particular, according to research conducted in the United States, indoor air pollution is one of the five most dangerous factors for human health. The most important component that determines the safety and suitability of air is its microbiome, which may contain both pathogenic microorganisms and microorganisms that are not dangerous, but can cause adverse reactions: allergies, immune system stress and more.

The purpose of the study is to analyze the literature and regulatory framework in Ukraine and other developed countries regarding the hygienic regulation of microbiological condition of office air.

Materials and methods of research. Analytical review of scientific publications was carried out using scientometric databases, sanitary legislation of developed countries, periodicals and publications.

Results and their discussion. In the USA, the EU, Japan, Brazil and many other developed countries of the world there are hygienic standards that regulate the permissible limits of the number of microorganisms in the air of office premises. It should be noted that these regulations have significant differences in methodological approaches to risk assessment and criteria. Basically, from 250 to 1000 colony-forming units/m3 are allowed for bacterial microflora and fungi according to the standards of different countries and organizations.

Literature data show a significant correlation (r = 0.35 - 0.40) between the concentration of microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) in indoor air and microclimate parameters, which may be the basis for improving prevention measures.

In Ukraine today, the regulatory framework for the number of microorganisms in the air applies only to premises in health care facilities or premises in the production of pharmaceutical products or food businesses. At the same time, regulations on administrative or office space that would provide safe limits for the presence of microorganisms in their air - have not been developed and implemented in health care practice.

Conclusions. There is a significant need to develop sanitary and anti-epidemic rules for work in office premises in Ukraine, which, in particular, regulates the number of microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) in the air. To address this issue, the scientific and regulatory experience of the EU, the US and other developed countries in regulating the permissible concentration of microorganisms in office air can be very useful. Also, it is very important to consider not only the quantitative but also the qualitative composition of the microbial environment that can affect the human body. When developing preventive measures, it is quite appropriate to determine the impact of microclimatic conditions and other physical factors on the air microbioma.

Keywords: office premises, bacteria, fungi, viruses, air.


  1. On the Antiseptic Principle in the Practice of Surgery.( 1867), Sep 21, No. 2 (351), pp. 246-248.
  2. Kotzias, D. (2005), "Indoor air and human exposure assessment-needs and approaches", Exp Toxicol Pathol, No. 57, pp. 5-7,
  3. Gawrońska, H., Bakera, B. (2015), "Phytoremediation of particulate matter from indoor air by Chlorophytum comosum L. Plants", Air Qual Atmos Health, No. 8, pp. 265-272,
  4. Burge, P.S. (2004), "Sick Building Syndrome", Occup.Environ. Med, Vol. 61, pp. 185-190,
  5. Li, D.W., Yang, C.S. (2004), "Fungal Contamination as a Major Contributor to Sick Building Syndrome", Advances in Applied Microbiology, Vol. 55, pp. 31-112
  6. Watson, A.Y., Bates, R.R., Kennedy, D. (1988), Assessment of human exposure to air pollution: methods, measurements, and models. Air Pollution, the Automobile, and Public Health. National Academy Press, Washington.
  7. Gizaw, Z., Gebrehiwot, M., Yenew, C. (2016), "High bacterial load of indoor air in hospital wards: the case of University of Gondar teaching hospital, Northwest Ethiopia", Multidiscip Respir Med, No. 11, pp. 24,
  8. Di Giulio, M., Grande, R., Di Campli, E. et al. (2010), "Indoor air quality in university environments", Environ Monit Assess, No. 170, pp. 509-517,
  9. Hewitt, K.M., Gerba, C.P., Maxwell, S.L., Kelley. S.T. (2012), "Office space bacterial abundance and diversity in three metropolitan areas", PLoS One. No. 7, pp. 37849,
  10. Nazaroff, W.W. (2016), "Indoor bioaerosol dynamics", Indoor Air, No. 26, pp. 61-78,
  11. Yang, W., Elankumaran, S. and Marr, L.C. (2011), "Concentrations and size distributions of airborne influenza A viruses measured indoors at a health centre, a day-care centre and on aeroplanes", J. R. Soc. Interface, Vol. 8, No. 61, pp. 1176-1184.
  12. Klepeis, N.E., Nelson, W.C., Ott, W.R. et al (2001), "The National human activity pattern survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants", J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol, No. 11, pp. 231-252,
  13. Brasche, S., Bischof, W. (2005), "Daily time spent indoors in German homes - Baseline data for the assessment of indoor exposure of German occupants", Int J Hyg Environ Health, No. 208, pp. 247-253,
  14. Gołofit-Szymczak, M., Górny, R.L. (2010), "Bacterial and fungal aerosols in air-conditioned office buildings in Warsaw, Poland - the winter season", Int J Occup Saf Ergon. No. 16, pp. 465-476.
  15. Law, A.K.Y., Chau, C.K., Chan, G.Y.S. (2001), "Characteristics of bioaerosol profile in office buildings in Hong Kong", Build Environ, No. 36, pp. 527-541,
  16. Qian J., Hospodsky, D., Yamamoto, N., Nazaroff, W. W., Peccia, J. (2012), "Size-resolved emission rates of airborne bacteria and fungi in an occupied classroom", Indoor Air, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 339-51,
  17. Spengler, J., Neas L., Nakai S. et al. (1994), "Respiratory symptoms and housing characteristics", Indoor Air, No. 4, pp. 72-82.
  18. Górny, R.L., Reponen, T., Grinshpun, S.A. and Willeke, K. (2001), "Source strength of fungal spore aerosolization from moldy building material", Atmos. Environ, No. 35, pp. 4853-4862.
  19. Seo, S.C., Reponen, T., Levin, L. et al. (2008), "Aerosolization of particulate (1→3)-β-D-glucan from moldy materials, Appl", Environ. Microbiol, No. 74, pp. 585-593.
  20. Muise, B., Seo, D.C., Blair, E.E., Applegate, T. (2010), "Mold spore penetration through wall service outlets: a pilot study", Environ. Monit. Assess, No. 163, pp. 95-104.
  21. Liu, D.L., Nazaroff, W.W. (2001), "Modeling pollutant penetration across building envelopes", Atmos. Environ, No. 35, pp. 4451-4462.
  22. Wolff, C.H. (2011), "Innate immunity and the pathogenicity of inhaledmicrobial particles", Int. J. Biol. Sci, No. 7, pp. 261-268.
  23. Testo unico in materia di tutela della salute e della sicurezza nei luoghi di lavoro. D.Lgs n. 81/2008. In Gazzetta Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana; n. 101 (30 Aprile 2008); Ministero della Giustizia, Ufficio Pubblicazione Leggi e Decreti: Rome, Italy.
  24. Dacarro, C., Grisoli, P., Del, Frate, G. et al. (2005), "Micro-organisms and dust exposure in an Italian grain mill", J. Appl. Microbiol, No. 98, pp. 163-171.
  25. European Collaborative Center - Indoor Air Quality & Its Impact On Man, Report No. 12, Biological Particles in Indoor Environment, Luxembourg, 1993.
  26. IRSST, Occupational Health and Safety Research Institute Robert Sauvé: Bioaerosol in Workplace: Evaluation, Control and Prevention Guide. Technical guide, 2001,
  27. AIHA. Field Guide for the Determination of Biological Contaminates in Environmental Samples. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1996.
  28. Abel, E., Andersson, J.V., Dawidowicz, N. et al. (2002), "The Swedish key action 'The Healthy Building' - research results achieved during the first three years period 1998-2000", Indoor Air, Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, No. 2, pp. 996-1001.
  29. de Aquino Neto, F.R., de GóesSiqueira, L.F. (2000), "Guidelines for indoor air quality in offices in Brazil", Proceedings of Healthy Buildings, No. 4, pp. 549-554.
  30. Nunes, Z.G., Martins, A.S., Altoe, A.L.F. et al. (2005), "Indoor air microbiological evaluation of offices, hospitals, industries, and shopping centers", Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz, Vol.100, No. 4, pp. 351-357.
  31. Lee, S.C., Li. W.M., Ao, C.H. (2002), "Investigation of indoor air quality at residential homes in Hong Kong - case study", Atmos Environ, No 36, pp. 225-237.
  32. Li. W.M., Lee. S.C., Chan. L.Y. (2001), "Indoor air quality at nine shopping malls in Hong Kong", Sci Total Environ, Vol. 12, No. 273 (1-3), pp. 27-40.
  33. Huang, P.Y., Shi, Z.Y., Chen, C.H. et al. (2013), "Airborne and surfacebound microbial contamination in two intensive care units of a medical center in Central Taiwan", Aerosol Air Qual Res, No. 13, pp. 1060-1069.
  34. Hsu, C.H., Lu, M.C., Huang, D.J. (2012), "Application of chlorine dioxide for disinfection of student health centers", Environ Monit Assess, No. 184, pp. 741-747.
  35. Katiyar, V. (2013), "Assessment of indoor air micro-flora in selected schools", Adv Environ Res, No. 2 (1), pp. 61-80.
  36. Obbard, J.P., Fang, L.S. (2003), "Airborne concentrations of bacteria in a hospital nvironment in Singapore", Water Air Soil Pollut, No 144 (1), pp. 333-341.
  37. Supplement to the Standard of Building Biology Testing Methods SBM-2015: Building Biology Evaluation Guidelines for Sleeping Areas. Baubiologie maes. Inst. für Baubiologie, Nachhaltigkeit, 2015, 4 p.