Quantitative deposition of ultrafine stable particles in the human respiratory tract

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1985 Jan;58(1):223-9. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1985.58.1.223.


Theoretical models of particle deposition in the respiratory tract predict high fractional deposition for particles of less than 0.1 micron, but there are few confirming experimental data for those predictions. We have measured the deposition fraction of a nonhygroscopic aerosol in the human respiratory tract. The aerosol had a count mean diameter of 0.044 micron SD of 1.93, as measured with an electrical aerosol analyzer, and was produced from a 0.01% solution of bis(2-ethylhexyl) sebacate using a condensation generator. Subjects inhaled the aerosol using a controlled respiratory pattern of 1 liter tidal volume, 12/min. Deposition was calculated as the difference in concentration between inhaled and exhaled aerosol of five size fractions corrected for system deposition and dead-space constants. Three deposition studies were done on each of five normal male volunteers. Means (+/- SE) for the five size fractions were 0.024 micron, 0.71 +/- 0.06; 0.043 micron, 0.62 +/- 0.06; 0.075 micron, 0.53 +/- 0.05; 0.13 micron, 0.44 +/- 0.04; and 0.24 micron, 0.37 +/- 0.06. These data demonstrate that deposition of inhaled particles in the 0.024- to 0.24-micron size range is high and increases with decreasing size. These observations agree with and validate predictions of mathematical models.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aerosols*
  • Decanoic Acids
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Particle Size
  • Physiology / instrumentation
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory System*


  • Aerosols
  • Decanoic Acids
  • di-2-ethylhexyl sebacate