Effectiveness of HVAC duct cleaning procedures in improving indoor air quality

Environ Monit Assess. 2001 Dec;72(3):265-76. doi: 10.1023/a:1012045104566.


Indoor air quality has become one of the most serious environmental concerns as an average person spends about 22 hr indoors on a daily basis. The study reported in this article, was conducted to determine the effectiveness of three commercial HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) duct cleaning processes in reducing the level of airborne particulate matter and viable bioaerosols. The three HVAC sanitation processes were: (1) Contact method (use of conventional vacuum cleaning of interior duct surfaces); (2) Air sweep method (use of compressed air to dislodging dirt and debris); (3) Rotary brush method (insertion of a rotary brush into the ductwork to agitate and dislodge the debris). Effectiveness of these sanitation processes was evaluated in terms of airborne particulate and viable bioaerosol concentrations in residential homes. Eight identical homes were selected in the same neighborhood. Two homes were cleaned using each procedure and two were used as controls. It was found that both particle count readings and bioaerosol concentrations were higher when cleaning was being performed than before or after cleaning, which suggests that dirt, debris and other pollutants may become airborne as a result of disturbances caused by the cleaning processes. Particle count readings at 0.3 micron size were found to have increased due to cigarette smoking. Particle counts at 1.0 micron size were reduced due to HVAC duct cleaning. Post-level bioaerosol concentrations, taken two days after cleaning, were found to be lower than the pre-level concentrations suggesting that the cleaning procedures were effective to some extent. Homes cleaned with the Air Sweep procedure showed the highest degree of reduction in bioaerosol concentration among the three procedures investigated.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Air Movements
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / prevention & control*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Equipment Design
  • Housing*
  • Hygiene*
  • Particle Size
  • Vacuum


  • Aerosols