Airborne microorganisms in animal housing facilities

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Clean air void of hazardous substances is vital to the survival of all living organisms.

Conditions in animal housing facilities may promote the growth of a wide diversity of microorganisms including bacteria and mould. Presence of airborne microorganisms in animal housing facilities affects the quality of air in those facilities. The quality of air directly affects animals, workers and people in neighbouring areas.  

The source of microorganisms in farm animal housing includes the animals, soil, dust, manure storage facilities, feed, water delivery system, fans, heaters and coolers. The seriousness of contamination depends on the amount of microorganisms present, their potential pathogenicity, biological viability and the condition of those at risk of exposure.

Hog confinement barn

Hog confinement barn

The release of airborne microorganisms from animal housing facilities to the outdoor environment may present significant risk to human health. Many studies have shown that there is significant risk to respiratory health of farmers, animals and people living in and around the animal housing facilities due to prolonged exposure to airborne microorganisms (bacteria, mould and viruses) and endotoxins.  

Airborne particles in the animal housing may contain various numbers of microorganisms depending on factors such as the number and size of the livestock, raising and breeding technologies, flooring and bedding type, temperature and humidity of the air and the level of ventilation.

Saprophytic microflora (those that feed on dead organic material) are the dominant type of microorganisms found as well as pathogens, viruses, mould spores and endotoxins of  Gram negative bacterial pathogens such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, Shigella, Pseudomonas, Neisseria and Haemophilus influenzae.

The most common bacterial microflora are the Gram positive bacteria which include Corynebacterium, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Micrococcus, Pontoea and Sarcina.  The presence of these bacteria in large numbers may cause respiratory infections to the farmers, animals and people in neighbouring residential areas. As with bacteria, moulds are everywhere in the environment. Moulds are dominated by Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Alternaria and yeast.

To minimize the human and animal risk of developing potential health problems as a result of microbial exposure, it is important to test air of these houses and surrounding areas for presence of airborne microorganisms.  Air sampling and analysis would help determine the amount and the types of mould and bacteria present.

Mold & Bacteria Consulting Laboratories have a group of highly skilled and professional microbiologists who specialize in analysing samples of mould and bacteria collected from homes, work, hospitals and animal house environments. They can help determine the air quality in animal housing facilities and other environments.

For further information or to have your air tested for airborne microorganisms, please contact us at:

Mold & Bacteria Consulting Laboratories

Ontario Branch                                                          British Colombia Branch

1020 Brevik Place, Unit 1A                                       4475 Wayburne Dr. Suite 204

Mississauga, ON L4W 4N7                                        Burnaby, BC    V5G 4X4

Office: 905-290-9101                                                Toll-free: 1-866-813-0648

Fax: 905-290-0499

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Dr Jackson Kung'u
Dr. Jackson Kung’u is a Microbiologist who has specialized in the field of mycology (the study of moulds and yeasts). He is a member of the Mycological Society of America. He graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK, with a Masters degree in Fungal Technology and a PhD in Microbiology. He has published several research papers in international scientific journals. Jackson has analyzed thousands of mould samples from across Canada. He also regularly teaches a course on how to recognize mould, perform effective sampling and interpret laboratory results. Jackson provides how-to advice on mould and bacteria issues. Get more information about indoor mould and bacteria at
Dr Jackson Kung'u

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