Indoor air as a vehicle for human pathogens: Introduction, objectives, and expectation of outcome

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Abstract

Airborne spread of pathogens can be rapid, widespread, and difficult to prevent. In this international workshop, a panel of 6 experts will expound on the following: (1) the potential for indoor air to spread a wide range of human pathogens, plus engineering controls to reduce the risk for exposure to airborne infectious agents; (2) the behavior of aerosolized infectious agents indoors and the use of emerging air decontamination technologies; (3) a survey of quantitative methods to recover infectious agents and their surrogates from indoor air with regard to survival and inactivation of airborne pathogens; (4) mathematical models to predict the movement of pathogens indoors and the use of such information to optimize the benefits of air decontamination technologies; and (5) synergy between different infectious agents, such as legionellae and fungi, in the built environment predisposing to possible transmission-related health impacts of aerosolized biofilm-based opportunistic pathogens. After the presentations, the panel will address a set of preformulated questions on selection criteria for surrogate microbes to study the survival and inactivation of airborne human pathogens, desirable features of technologies for microbial decontamination of indoor air, knowledge gaps, and research needs. It is anticipated that the deliberations of the workshop will provide the attendees with an update on the significance of indoor air as a vehicle for transmitting human pathogens with a brief on what is currently being done to mitigate the risks from airborne infectious agents.

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