Airborne transmission of disease is of concern in many indoor spaces. Here, aerosol dispersion and removal in an unoccupied 4-bed hospital room were characterized using a transient aerosol tracer experiment for 38 experiments covering 4 configurations of air purifiers and 3 configurations of curtains. NaCl particle (mass mean aerodynamic diameter ~3 μm) concentrations were measured around the room following an aerosol release. Particle transport across the room was 1.5-4 min which overlaps with the characteristic times for significant viral deactivation and gravitational settling of larger particles. Concentrations were close to spatially uniform except very near the source. Curtains resulted in a modest increase in delay and decay times, less so when combined with purifiers. The aerosol decay rate was in most cases higher than expected from the clean air delivery rate, but the reduction in steady-state concentrations resulting from air purifiers was less than suggested by the decay rates. Apparently, a substantial (and configuration-dependent) fraction of the aerosol is removed immediately, and this effect is not captured by the decay rate. Overall, the combination of curtains and purifiers is likely to reduce disease transmission in multi-patient hospital rooms.
Keywords: COVID-19 transmission; aerosol dispersion; aerosols; air purifiers; hospital rooms; portable filter units; ventilation.
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