A comparison of sampling media for environmental viable fungi collected in a hospital environment

Environ Res. 2000 Mar;82(3):253-7. doi: 10.1006/enrs.1999.4017.


Quantitative evaluation of fungal exposure is often conducted by analysis of the composition of microbes in air samples and calculation of the concentrations afterward. The collecting medium that favors the growth for most saprophytic fungi is considered to be the ideal choice in most circumstances. Currently, the culture medium most frequently adopted in environmental sampling for airborne fungi is MEA (malt extract agar) recommended by the ACGIH for its suitability for most fungal growth. DG18 (dichloran glycerol-18), developed in 1980, is suggested for growth at lower water activity (a(w)=0.95) specifically and is not as commonly used in general studies. This investigation collected airborne viable fungi using a single stage/N6 Andersen impactor with MEA and DG18 agar plates attached simultaneously to the same set of samplers. The sampling locations were at 17 sites within a central air-conditioned hospital. After incubation and morphological identification, concentrations of airborne fungi and bacteria were expressed as CFU/m(3) (colony forming units/m(3)). There are 405 DG18 plates and 378 plates available for statistical analysis. Results show that the airborne fungal concentrations, shown by geometric mean (GM), are higher from the DG18 plates than from the MEA plates. The total fungal concentrations is 68.6 vs 12.94 CFU/m(3), and for Aspergillus spp., the concentration is 1.58 vs 0.72 CFU/m(3); for Penicillium spp., 3.37 vs 0.71; and for yeast, 5.09 vs 0.49 CFU/m(3). In addition, the number of different genera present is greater on the DG18 plates than on the MEA plates, on average, 2.85 types vs 1.72. This study suggests that in a hospital environment with 24-h, central air conditioning, DG18 plates appear to be more effective in collecting more fungal colonies in terms of both quantity and types of genera. Such a finding is presumed to be attributed to the characteristic of DG18 in slowing colony growth so that the dominating genus will not over occupy the culture plate surface before the less competitive genus can fully develop. Future studies on related biological mechanisms are essential to conclude whether the above results sustain when sampling is conducted in other environments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Culture Media
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Fungi / isolation & purification*
  • Hospitals*
  • Humans
  • Public Health
  • Specimen Handling
  • Ventilation


  • Air Pollutants
  • Culture Media