Particle deposition in the human lung: Health implications of particulate matter from different sources

Environ Res. 2019 Feb;169:237-245. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.11.014. Epub 2018 Nov 14.


Although ambient particulate matter or particles have been found to be associated with morbidity and mortality all over the world, specific health effects of particles from different sources need further elucidation. The objective of this work is to predict the deposition of particles from different sources in the human lung. The whole lung, consisting of 24 generations of branches from trachea to alveoli, was approximated using a one-dimensional lumped "trumpet" model with a variable cross-sectional area. The aerosol dynamics equation was numerically solved using a finite difference method to investigate the transport and deposition of particles in the lung model. Particles from various sources were assumed to be different in both size and density. We found that in general, coarse particles (> 2.5 µm) were mainly deposited in the tracheobronchial (TB) region by impaction, and fine particles (< 2.5 µm) were mainly deposited in the pulmonary (P) region by sedimentation and diffusion. However, the coarse particles with low density can be deposited in P region by sedimentation. As a comparison, our results found that soil particles, which are coarse with low density, were deposited in the deep lung more than traffic particles, which are fine with high density. Modeling of particle deposition in the human lung indicated that coarse particles generated by crustal sources may have adverse health effects as strong as those resulting from fine particles generated from combustion sources.

Keywords: Density; Deposition; Human lungs; Particulate matter; Soil dust; Traffic particles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants*
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Lung*
  • Particle Size
  • Particulate Matter*


  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter