12.02.2021
KU RESEARCH
A Thesis of a Student Team from Department of Biological Engineering Published
in the Korean Journal of Environmental Engineering
The ‘Research on the Analysis and Diffusion of Microorganism around Smoking Booth’ conducted by students from Division of Biological Engineering at Konkuk University’s College of Engineering under Dream Semester System in the first semester was published in the latest issue of the Korean Journal of Environmental Engineering (November). (Thesis title: Influence of the Smoking and Spitting Behaviors in Public Smoking Areas on the Microbial Contamination and Spread)

A research team consisted of Sungwoo Yang, Seunghyeon Yeo. Seungjoon Kim and Jungwook Cho (Advisor Hyungjoo Kim) from Department of Biological Engineering confirmed that the saliva spit on the street by smokers increases harmful microorganism. The research team revealed that 7 out of 10 smokers spit on the street while smoking, and that they spit up to 10 times or more on average 3.5 times during their smoking. They discovered that the microbial activity around the trashcan, where they spit a lot, was 5000-12000RLU (concentration of organic compound contamination), which is almost similar to that of toilets. (Image 1)

The research scientifically proved for the first time in the world that microorganism produced by saliva may move at least 100 meters after being attached to the bottom of a smoker’s shoes. The saliva and microorganism move from the smoking area to various places including offices, homes and restaurants resulting in multiple infections.

During the 5 months of Dream Semester, the research team specifically planned the whole research process by each member with detailed roles and schedules to conduct the research. At the beginning, they have analyzed the research results and specified experimental tools and methods.
(Image 1) Photos of microorganism proliferating around smoking areas

Later, they have observed smokers around the actual smoking areas and analyzed the number of smoking and spitting. The salvia on the street spit by smokers was directly collected while the microorganism were separated with collected samples to analyze CFU. Through the statistics and analysis of the experiment results, the research team completed their thesis developing the content by comparing it with other thesis.

The research team said, “Amid the difficulties during the experiments, we were able to make great results with the support of our team and advisors,” and, “We hope that the research results will raise the awareness of smokers and be used for public interests considering that it is the era of COVID-19.”