Observed Reductions in the Infectivity of Bioaerosols Containing Bovine Coronavirus Under Repetitively Pulsed RF Exposure

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2023 Feb;70(2):640-649. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2022.3199333. Epub 2023 Jan 19.


Objective: The purpose of the present study is to investigate the inactivation of bioaerosols containing Bovine Coronavirus, BCoV, under repetitively pulsed radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic exposure.

Methods: These experiments were performed in a waveguide containing a flowing aerosol stream and were limited to a single RF waveform: ∼2 μs square envelope, 5.6 GHz, 4.8 kHz repetition rate. Aerosol streams were exposed to RF electric field amplitudes in the range of 41.9 +/-6.2 kV/m. Under laminar flow conditions, 75% of the total collected aerosol stream spends 0.85 seconds or less in the RF exposure region.

Results: Application of the RF waveform changed mean survival rate of the aerosolized BCoV by -0.58 decades (roughly a 74% reduction) and impacted the variance and standard deviation of the experimental results, with the RF exposure data showing an 800% increase in variance and 196% increase in standard deviation over the control results. Experimental results were compared to those from an analytic electromagnetic-heating inactivation model.

Conclusion: The comparison indicated the feasibility that the observed reduction in BCoV survival rate might be due to a combination of thermal effects and non-thermal electric field effects.

Significance: Developing better insight into the mechanisms of inactivation is important for understanding the potential limits of efficacy for this method. Additionally, these results contribute an important baseline for the impact of electromagnetic fields on aerosolized pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Coronavirus, Bovine*
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Radio Waves