Impact of Middle Eastern dust storms on indoor and outdoor composition of bioaerosol

Zahra Soleimani, Gholamreza Goudarzi, Armin Sorooshian, Mohammad Bagherian Marzouni, Heidar Maleki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


The presence of microbes in airborne aerosol particles, especially dust, is a major public health concern in desert regions. This study is the first of its kind to examine the effect of dust storms on indoor and outdoor microbial air quality at a hospital on the western side of Iran (city of Ahvaz), which is notorious for being highly vulnerable to dust emissions. Air samples were collected inside and outside of the hospital environment for six months, with the unique advantage of this study being that the region and duration of measurements allow for a clear comparison between dusty and normal days. On normal days, the average concentrations (outdoor/indoor) of bacteria and fungi were 423/329 cfu m-3 and 596/386 cfu m-3, respectively, which increased to 1257/406 cfu m-3 and 1116/550 cfu m-3 on dust event days. Indoor/Outdoor ratios for bacteria and fungi are lower on dust event days (0.26-0.60) versus normal days (0.44-0.95). Bacillus spp., Micrococcus spp., Streptomyces spp., and Staphylococcus spp. were the dominant bacteria both indoors and outdoors on normal and dust event days. Gram positive bacteria exhibited higher concentrations than Gram negative bacteria in both outdoor and indoor air samples as well as during both normal and dust event days. The data suggest that Gram positive bacteria are more resistant to undesirable outdoor conditions (e.g., high incident solar radiation) as compared to Gram negative ones. These results have implications for other populated arid regions where more stringent control of indoor air quality can greatly benefit public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Aerosol
  • Bacteria
  • Bioaerosol
  • Dust
  • Indoor air quality
  • Iran

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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