Composition of Culturable Microorganisms in Dusts Collected from Sport Facilities in Finland during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Maria Andersson*, Camilla Vornanen-Winqvist, Tuomas Koivisto, András Varga, Raimo Mikkola, László Kredics, Heidi Salonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Sport facilities represent extreme indoor environments due to intense cleaning and disinfection. The aim of this study was to describe the composition of the cultivated microbiota in dust samples collected in sport facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. A dust sample is defined as the airborne dust sedimented on 0.02 m2 within 28 d. The results show that the microbial viable counts in samples of airborne dust (n = 9) collected from seven Finnish sport facilities during the pandemic contained a high proportion of pathogenic filamentous fungi and a low proportion of bacteria. The microbial viable counts were between 14 CFU and 189 CFU per dust sample. In seven samples from sport facilities, 20–85% of the microbial viable counts were fungi. Out of 123 fungal colonies, 47 colonies belonged to the potentially pathogenic sections of Aspergillus (Sections Fumigati, Nigri, and Flavi). Representatives of each section were identified as Aspergillus fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger and A. tubingensis. Six colonies belonged to the genus Paecilomyces. In six samples of dust, a high proportion (50–100%) of the total fungal viable counts consisted of these potentially pathogenic fungi. A total of 70 isolates were considered less likely to be pathogenic, and were identified as Aspergillus section Nidulantes, Chaetomium cochliodes and Penicillium sp. In the rural (n = 2) and urban (n = 7) control dust samples, the microbial viable counts were >2000 CFU and between 44 CFU and 215 CFU, respectively, and consisted mainly of bacteria. The low proportion of bacteria and the high proportion of stress tolerant, potentially pathogenic fungi in the dust samples from sport facilities may reflect the influence of disinfection on microbial communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number339
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • airborne dust
  • Aspergillus
  • Paecilomyces
  • potential pathogens
  • sport facilities


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