A new methodology for studying dynamics of aerosol particles in sneeze and cough using a digital high-vision, high-speed video system and vector analyses

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 27;8(11):e80244. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080244. eCollection 2013.

Abstract

Microbial pathogens of respiratory infectious diseases are often transmitted through particles in sneeze and cough. Therefore, understanding the particle movement is important for infection control. Images of a sneeze induced by nasal cavity stimulation by healthy adult volunteers, were taken by a digital high-vision, high-speed video system equipped with a computer system and treated as a research model. The obtained images were enhanced electronically, converted to digital images every 1/300 s, and subjected to vector analysis of the bioparticles contained in the whole sneeze cloud using automatic image processing software. The initial velocity of the particles or their clusters in the sneeze was greater than 6 m/s, but decreased as the particles moved forward; the momentums of the particles seemed to be lost by 0.15-0.20 s and started a diffusion movement. An approximate equation of a function of elapsed time for their velocity was obtained from the vector analysis to represent the dynamics of the front-line particles. This methodology was also applied for a cough. Microclouds contained in a smoke exhaled with a voluntary cough by a volunteer after smoking one breath of cigarette, were traced as the visible, aerodynamic surrogates for invisible bioparticles of cough. The smoke cough microclouds had an initial velocity greater than 5 m/s. The fastest microclouds were located at the forefront of cloud mass that moving forward; however, their velocity clearly decreased after 0.05 s and they began to diffuse in the environmental airflow. The maximum direct reaches of the particles and microclouds driven by sneezing and coughing unaffected by environmental airflows were estimated by calculations using the obtained equations to be about 84 cm and 30 cm from the mouth, respectively, both achieved in about 0.2 s, suggesting that data relating to the dynamics of sneeze and cough became available by calculation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aerosols
  • Cough*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Particulate Matter*
  • Sneezing*
  • Video Recording*
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Aerosols
  • Particulate Matter

Grant support

This work was financially supported by the Clinical Research Fund of the Sendai Medical Center. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.