Bioaerosol Monitoring and Bioaerosol Assessments

Bioaerosol Monitoring ECL Banner

Operators of relevant regulated facilities whose sites are within 250m of a sensitive receptor are obliged through regulation to conduct bioaerosol monitoring / bioaerosol assessments and also undertake a bioaerosol risk assessment. These mandatory requirements have applied in the UK since April 2017 for new permit holders and April 2019 for existing permit holders. 


What Is A Bioaerosol? 

Firstly, A bioaerosol is a collection of microscopic airborne particles that are, contain or are a by-product of living organisms. Bioaerosols include a range of organisms such as: 

  • Actinomycetes 
  • Bacterial Endotoxins 
  • Fungi 
  • Moulds 
  • Mycotoxins 
  • Pollen Grains 
  • Viruses 

Bioaerosols can also be referred to as organic dust or biological aerosol. 

These microorganisms can be dispersed in the air as single units but are often present as aggregate formations. Airborne particulate will remain airborne until settling occurs or they are inhaled.  

Many bioaerosols including Aspergillus fumigatus have the potential to travel vast distances and cause respiratory disease in humans. This is particularly true of those individuals who are immuno-depressed.  

The monitoring of these bioaerosols not only helps to keep your workforce safe but ensures compliance with the latest UK Environment Agency standards.  


Why Is Bioaerosol Monitoring Important? 

Whilst we are all constantly exposed to bioaerosols in our everyday lives, in almost all normal circumstances these are in negligible concentrations that are highly unlikely to cause us any great harm. 

Under atypical conditions, where elevated concentrations of bioaerosols occur there is the potential for significant harm to human health to occur. This is due to the by-products of microbial metabolism and foreign proteins of microorganisms and fragments of cells can result in allergic reactions and irritant responses. Exposure to Bioaerosols in the environment have been linked to many respiratory diseases, toxic shock and even cancer, not to mention allergies… think hay fever from pollens. 

Most technologies used in the UK to treat organic waste have the potential to generate and release bioaerosols in significant concentrations. Under certain conditions, for example on organic waste treatment facilities such as Anaerobic Digestion or Composting Sites, there is the potential for significantly higher concentrations of airborne bioaerosols to be released into the atmosphere. 

Once entrained into the air, due to their tiny mass, bioaerosols are known to be able to travel great distances and extend beyond the boundary of the processing facilities. Therefore, sensitive receptors (people who live and/or work within 250m for at least six hour a day) are at a potential increased risk of exposure over and above that typically found in background air concentrations. 

For these reasons, greater scrutiny of development proposals for new waste management facilities and even more substantive monitoring requirements for existing sites. 

Bioaerosol Assessments Aspergillus Fumigatus Lungs

Bioaerosol Exposure and Current Bioaerosol Regulations

Links between human health and exposure to bioaerosols are still not very well understood. So, regulators such as the Environmental Agengy and the Health & Safety Executive have set out various bioaerosol regulations. 

Operators of relevant facilities who have people who live and work within 250m of the area are required to ensure all bioaerosol emissions are controlled below acceptable levels via through various methods of bioaerosol monitoring and Bioaerosol Risk Assessments

It is recommended in the UK by the The Environment Agency that the ‘Guidance Levels’ of 1,000cfum-3 for mesophilic bacteria & 500cfum-3 for Aspergillus fumigatus is maintained, based on the latest information on background values. 

New development proposals must also consider how bioaerosol emissions could affect surrounding areas and people in close vacinity. Site specific bioaerosol risk assessments are therefore often requested in support of Permit Applications for new facilities. 


Who Requires Ambient Bioaerosol Monitoring? 

It is important to continually monitor bioaerosols in the workplace to ensure that adequate exposure is maintained and that it is controlled as much as possible. The aim is to protect both yourself and employees from any potential future health problems. 

As composting, anaerobic digestion and mechanical biological treatment are now the main technologies used across the UK to treat organic waste streams, and these processes rely heavily on the microbial activity to break down waste materials and therefore proceed to generate bioaerosol emissions. 

These bioaerosols can be generated in both outdoor and indoor environments due to a variety of natural, mechanical, and human activities such as: 

  • Agricultural Processes 
  • Air Handling Water Spray Systems 
  • Composting 
  • Harvesting 
  • Spray Irrigation 
  • Tilling 
  • Waste Treatment Activity 
  • Weather 


What Are The Benefits of Bioaerosol Monitoring? 

By staying compliant with UK regulation and Environment Agency standards for bioaerosols you will be helping keep your employees protected from potential bioaerosol related health complications and avoid any potential fines or prosecutions. 

You will be provided with expert guidance, advice and accurate, reliable measurement results. 


What Does Bioaerosol Monitoring Entail? 

Bioaerosol Monitoring is a rather sensitive and delicate exercise.  

Technicians can then calculate a concentration from the volume of gas sampled. 

ECL is able to offer comprehensive monitoring of bioaerosols in accordance with EA Technical Guidance Note M9 ‘Environmental monitoring of bioaerosols at regulated facilities’. As mentioned above, the monitoring approach requires sampling upwind of the facility to understand background concentrations of bioaerosols being blown towards the site and at multiple locations downwind of the facility to assess the concentration of bioaerosols generated by and being blown off the site.  

Further to the comprehensive monitoring data that we are able to generate, ECL can also assist you with undertaking your bioaerosol risk assessment. The primary purpose of this type of assessment is to understand where your emissions are generated and to identify measure to control them to acceptable levels. 


Experts In Bioaerosol Monitoring and Bioaerosol Assessments 

ECL’s specialist knowledge and extensive experience of undertaking bioaerosol assessments and bioaerosol monitoring allow us to offer a complete range of services to help ensure that your regulatory obligations are fulfilled. 

Our qualified Air Quality Consultants have extensive experience of undertaking bioaerosol assessments of composting facilities, anaerobic digestion plants and wastewater treatment facilities. Working with some of the largest industrial operators in the UK and around the world. Determining both emissions and associated impact around their sites.  

We would work closely alongside you to identify any hazards and opportunities for improvement in your process to help maintain compliance and minimise your emissions. Our comprehensive range of bioaerosol assessment and air quality services, include: 

Our in-depth understanding and history of waste treatment processes and emission control systems allows us to carefully focus the scope of your assessment and provide cost-effective and practical solutions for the bioaerosol compliance of your site. 

ECL’s skilled consultants are ready and waiting to assist you. If you have any questions or require further information regarding our Bioaerosol Monitoring services, please don’t hesitate in contacting our experienced consultants via our online Enquiry Form, telephone (01443 801215) or email