The term aerobiology came into use during 1930 for the studies of airspora like airborne fungal spores, pollen grains and other microorganisms. Jacobs (1951) elaborated the term to include dispersion of insect populations, fungal spores, pollen grains, bacteria and viruses. In fact, all forms of life belonging to both plants and animals which become airborne are transported partly or wholly in the atmosphere.
In early days biologists were mainly interested in the aspects of entrapment, identification and enumeration of biological material which are transported through the atmosphere. On the other hand, meteorologists showed little interest in the results made out of biological investigations.
However, botanists, plant pathologists, palynologists, geneticists, meteorologists, etc., showed greater interest in this field. Recently even the defence organisations have shown interest in this particular field especially on the atmospheric dissemination of organisms which include insects, pests, allergens or pathogens.
Thus aerobiology is a scientific and multidisciplinary approach focused on the transport of organisms and biologically significant materials drawing information from palynology, ecology, mycology, plant pathology and also from biochemistry, immunology and clinical medicine etc.
In environmental pollution, much consideration is also given to smokes, dust, radionuclecides, pesticides and the microbial forms like viruses, bacteria, fungal spores, spores of ferns and mosses, pollen grains, etc. Such bioparticles attack the mucous membrane causing respiratory allergic disorder symptomized in intense sneezing, watery eyes, nasal obstruction, itchy eyes and nose and frequent coughing which may take place minutes after exposure to the offending allergens.
During the International Biological Programme (IBP) meeting at Paris in 1964 the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) established the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environments (SCOPE) where monitoring was defined as ‘systematic collection for a predetermined purpose of intercomparable measurements of observations of any environmental variable or attribute’.
Out of seven topics chosen, three would benefit from applications of aerobiological investigations and monitoring, namely:
(1) Dynamic changes and evolution of ecosystem,
(2) Environmental aspect from human settlements, and
(3) Environmental monitoring.
Most of the aerobiological work is carried out with reference to the Aerobiological Triangle (Fig.10.1) described by a pathway like Source- Release-Dispersion-Deposition and Impact where environmental factors affect at each state.