Background: Indoor air is contaminated with microorganisms coming from both the atmospheric air and sources present in premises. The aim of this study was to analyze the concentrations of biological agents in office buildings, dependending on ventilation/air conditioning system and season.
Materials and methods: The study covered office buildings (different in the system of ventila-tion/air conditioning). Air samples for assessing the levels of inhalable dust, endotoxins and (1-->3)-beta-D-glucans, were taken at the selected stationary points of each building during summer and winter. The air was sampled for 6 h, using portable sets consisting of the GilAir 5 pump and the head filled with a filter of fiber glass. The samples for the presence of airborne bacteria and fungi were collected twice during the day using the impaction method.
Results: Average concentrations of inhalable dust, bacteria, fungi, endotoxins and (1-->3)-beta-D-glucans in office premises were 0.09 mg/m3, 6.00 x 10(2) cfu/m3, 4.59 x 10(1) cfu/m3, 0.42 ng/m3 and 3.91 ng/m3, respectively. Higher concentrations of the investigated agents were found in summer. In premises with air conditioning concentrations of airborne fungi, (1-->3)-beta-D-glucans and inhalable dust were significantly lower in winter. In summer the trend was reverse except for (1-->3)-beta-D-glucans.
Conclusions: Concentrations of biological agents were affected by the season and the presence of air conditioning. Concentrations of inhalable dust, bacteria, fungi, endotoxins and (1-->3)-beta-D-glucans, observed inside the office buildings, were significantly higher in summer than in winter. The presence of the air conditioning system modified in various ways the levels of biological agents. Its influence was greater on the concentration of fungi and (1-->3)-beta-D-glucans than on that of bacteria and endotoxins.