Building-integrated agriculture: A first assessment of aerobiological air quality in rooftop greenhouses (i-RTGs)

Mireia Ercilla-Montserrat, Rebeca Izquierdo, Jordina Belmonte, Juan Ignacio Montero, Pere Muñoz, Concepción De Linares, Joan Rieradevall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Building-integrated rooftop greenhouse (i-RTG) agriculture has intensified in recent years, due to the growing interest in the development of new agricultural spaces and in the promotion of food self-sufficiency in urban areas. This paper provides a first assessment of the indoor dynamics of bioaerosols in an i-RTG, with the aim of evaluating biological air quality in a tomato greenhouse near Barcelona. It evaluates the greenhouse workers' exposure to airborne pollen and fungal spores in order to prevent allergy problems associated with occupational tasks. Moreover, it evaluates whether the quality of the hot air accumulated in the i-RTG is adequate for recirculation to heat the building. Daily airborne pollen and fungal spore concentrations were measured simultaneously in the indoor and outdoor environments during the warm season. A total of 4,924 pollen grains/m3 were observed in the i-RTG, with a peak of 334 pollen grains/m3day, and a total of 295,038 fungal spores were observed, reaching a maximum concentration of 26,185 spores/m3day. In general, the results showed that the most important source of pollen grains and fungal spores observed indoors was the outdoor environment. However, Solanaceae pollen and several fungal spore taxa, such as the allergenic Aspergillus/Penicillium, largely originated inside the greenhouses or were able to colonize the indoor environment under favourable growing conditions. Specific meteorological conditions and agricultural management tasks are related to the highest observed indoor concentrations of pollen grains and fungal spores. Therefore, preventive measures have been suggested in order to reduce or control the levels of bioaerosols indoors (to install a system to interrupt the recirculation of air to the building during critical periods or to implement appropriate air filters in ventilation air ducts). This first evaluation could help in making decisions to prevent the development of fungal diseases, specifically those due to Oidium and Torula.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
JournalScience of the total environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2017


  • Air recirculation
  • Fungal spores
  • Greenhouse
  • Indoor and outdoor bioaerosols
  • Pollen grains
  • Symbiosis
  • Tomato crop
  • Urban agriculture


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