Method for measuring the size distribution of airborne rhinovirus
About 50% of viral-induced respiratory illnesses are caused by the human rhinovirus (HRV). Measurements of the concentrations and sizes of bioaerosols are critical for research on building characteristics, aerosol transport, and mitigation measures. We developed a quantitative reverse transcription-coupled polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay for HRV and verified that this assay detects HRV in nasal lavage samples. A quantitation standard was used to determine a detection limit of 5 fg of HRV RNA with a linear range over 1000-fold. To measure the size distribution of HRV aerosols, volunteers with a head cold spent two hours in a ventilated research chamber. Airborne particles from the chamber were collected using an Andersen Six-Stage Cascade Impactor. Each stage of the impactor was analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR for HRV. For the first two volunteers with confirmed HRV infection, but with mild symptoms, we were unable to detect HRV on any stage of the impactor.