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Environ Res. 2018 Jan;160:282-291. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.10.001. Epub 2017 Oct 13.

Concentrations of Staphylococcus species in indoor air as associated with other bacteria, season, relative humidity, air change rate, and S. aureus-positive occupants.

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National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Lersø Parkallé 105, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark. Electronic address:
National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Lersø Parkallé 105, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.
Microbiology and Infection Control, Statens Serum Institut, Artillerivej 5, 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark.
Danish Building Research Institute, Aalborg University, Department of Construction and Health, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The aim of this study was to obtain knowledge about concentrations of Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus), and other Staphylococcus species in indoor air in Greater Copenhagen and about factors affecting the concentrations. The effects of season, temperature, relative humidity, air change rate (ACR), other bacterial genera, area per occupant, and presence of S. aureus-positive occupants were studied. In samples from 67 living rooms, S. hominis, S. warneri, S. epidermidis, and S. capitis were found in 13-25%; S. saprophyticus, S. cohnii, and S. pasteuri in 5-10%; and S. lugdunensis, S. haemolyticus, S. caprae, S. equorum, S. kloosii, S. pettenkoferi, S. simulans, and S. xylosus in less than 3%. Staphylococcus aureus were found in two of 67 living rooms: spa type t034 (an MRSA) was recovered from a farmhouse, while spa type t509 was found in an urban home. Two species, S. equorum and S. kloosii, were found only in the farmhouse. Staphylococcus was significantly associated with season with lowest concentration and richness in winter. Genera composition was associated with ACR with smaller fractions of Staphylococcus at higher ACR, while richness was significantly and negatively associated with area per occupant. Concentration of Staphylococcus correlated positively with the total concentration of bacteria, but negatively with the total concentration of other bacteria. The concentration of Staphylococcus was not significantly associated with concentrations of the other abundant genera Bacillus, Kocuria, and Micrococcus. In offices with S. aureus-positive occupants, airborne S. aureus was not found. In conclusion, Staphylococcus species constitute a considerable proportion of the airborne bacteria in the studied homes and offices. However, both S. aureus and MRSA had very low prevalence during all seasons. Thus, transmission of S. aureus and MRSA through the air in living rooms in Copenhagen is expected to be limited. The negative associations between ACR and the fraction Staphylococcus constituted out of total bacteria, and between area per occupant and Staphylococcus richness indicate that it might be possible to affect the presence of airborne Staphylococcus in homes.


CoNS; Indoor air; MALDI-TOF; MRSA; Staphylococcus aureus

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