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Aerodynamic size measurement of airborne fibers and health effects implications

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The constituent particles of many ambient and workplace aerosols of health effects concerns are of fibrous and aggregate geometric shapes. Although the deposition sites of particles in the human respiratory system are primarily related to their aerodynamic diameters, for rod-like and branching forms the dominant deposition mechanism may be interception. A theoretical model has been developed which predicts that natural and synthetic fibers may be preferentially deposited at lung airway bifurcations. Therefore, to assess potential exposure hazards it is necessary to have accurate kinetic classifications of airborne particulate matter. Centrifugal spectrometers can give direct and continuously graded measures of the aerodynamic size distributions of sampled aerosols. Herein, a mathematical description of centrifuge operation is refined to permit the characterization of irregularly shaped particles, with specific application to fibers. Aerosol centrifuge performance therefore can be customized to specific applications and be integrated into health effects studies.

Affiliations: 1: Health Effects Research Laboratory, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA


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