Human exposure to airborne particles can lead to adverse health outcomes such as respiratory and allergic symptoms. Understanding the transport mechanism of respirable particles in occupied spaces is a first step towards assessing inhalation exposure. Several studies have contributed to the current knowledge of particle resuspension from indoor surfaces; however, few published studies are available on resuspension of biological particles from indoor surfaces. The objective of this study is to investigate the impacts of humidity and air swirl on resuspension of biological particles from floor and duct surfaces. Controlled laboratory experiments were conducted under varying degrees of humidity and airflow conditions. Resuspension rates of five types of particles (quartz, dust mite, cat fur, dog fur, and bacterial spore-Bacillus thuringiensis as an anthrax simulant) were determined for two types of floor surface (carpet and linoleum) and a duct surface (galvanized sheet metal). The results show that the particle property of being hydrophilic or hydrophobic plays an important role in particle resuspension rate. Resuspension rates of hydrophilic dust mite particles increase up to two orders of magnitude as relative humidity (RH) decreased from 80% to 10% at 25°C. However, resuspension rates of cat fur and dog fur particles that are hydrophobic are within the measurement error range (±15%) over 10-80% RH. With regard to resuspension of bacterial spores (Bacillus thuringiensis) from a duct surface, the resuspension rates are substantially affected by air swirl velocity and particle size. However, no discernible increase in particle resuspension was observed with duct vibration.
Keywords: Anthrax; Cat fur; Dog fur; Dust mite; Indoor allergens; Particle resuspension.
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