Differences in survival of (strain B) sprayed from distilled water into air and into nitrogen as a function of relative humidity (RH) are reported. Two mechanisms which may contribute to death of airborne bacteria are described. In air one death mechanism occurring at low RH is attributed to the action of oxygen causing damage to flavin-linked enzymes as a result of free radical activity. Free radical suppressors are therefore expected to protect airborne B. Also, electron transport inhibitors like sodium azide, 2,4-dinitrophenol and potassium cyanide are shown to protect B against lethal effects of oxygen. An analogy is drawn with effects of oxygen on freeze-dried B. A second death mechanism of B in air occurs at higher RH's and is considered to result from the effect of aero-solization on RNA synthesis. The activation of RNAse as a possible protection to bacteria in the post-aerosolization medium is discussed.


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