Real-time measurement of particulate matter deposition in the lung

Biomarkers. 2006 May-Jun;11(3):221-32. doi: 10.1080/13547500600648523.


Air pollution and cigarette smoke are recognized health risks. A method was developed for the measurement of the deposition fraction (DF) of polydisperse particulate matter (PM) in human airways. Ten normal volunteers [three females, age range 18-67 years, mean age (SD) 43.9 (14)] made single breath exhalations after inhalation to total lung capacity. The exhaled breath was diverted to a multichannel laser diffraction chamber where the particulate profiler measured 0.3 - 1.0-microm particles. DF was inversely related to expiration flow-rate, 0.69 (0.02) at 4 l min-1 and 0.5 (0.01) at 13 l min-1, respectively (p<0.05), and was influenced by the inhalation flow-rate [0.70 (0.02) at 3 l min-1 and 0.59 (0.02) at 13 l min-1, respectively (p<0.05)], while no differences were found between nasal and oral inhalation (0.68 (0.05) versus 0.67 (0.06), p>0.05). Higher breath holding times were associated with elevated DF [0.74 (0.02) at 20 s, and 0.62 (0.05) without breath holding (p<0.01)]. When the expiratory flow was controlled and the breath hold time standardized, DF was reproducible (CV = 4.85%). PM can be measured in the exhaled breath and its DF can be quantified using a portable device. These methods may be useful in studies investigating the health effects of air pollution and tobacco smoke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adsorption
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / pharmacokinetics
  • Exhalation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhalation
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Research Design
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution