Vacuum cleaner emissions as a source of indoor exposure to airborne particles and bacteria

Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Jan 3;46(1):534-42. doi: 10.1021/es202946w. Epub 2011 Dec 7.


Vacuuming can be a source of indoor exposure to biological and nonbiological aerosols, although there are few data that describe the magnitude of emissions from the vacuum cleaner itself. We therefore sought to quantify emission rates of particles and bacteria from a large group of vacuum cleaners and investigate their potential determinants, including temperature, dust bags, exhaust filters, price, and age. Emissions of particles between 0.009 and 20 μm and bacteria were measured from 21 vacuums. Ultrafine (<100 nm) particle emission rates ranged from 4.0 × 10(6) to 1.1 × 10(11) particles min(-1). Emission of 0.54-20 μm particles ranged from 4.0 × 10(4) to 1.2 × 10(9) particles min(-1). PM(2.5) emissions were between 2.4 × 10(-1) and 5.4 × 10(3) μg min(-1). Bacteria emissions ranged from 0 to 7.4 × 10(5) bacteria min(-1) and were poorly correlated with dust bag bacteria content and particle emissions. Large variability in emission of all parameters was observed across the 21 vacuums, which was largely not attributable to the range of determinant factors we assessed. Vacuum cleaner emissions contribute to indoor exposure to nonbiological and biological aerosols when vacuuming, and this may vary markedly depending on the vacuum used.

MeSH terms

  • Air Microbiology*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollutants / economics
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / economics
  • Bacteria / cytology*
  • Dust / analysis
  • Household Products* / economics
  • Particle Size
  • Particulate Matter / analysis*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors


  • Air Pollutants
  • Dust
  • Particulate Matter