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1.  The application of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to control transmission of airborne disease: bioterrorism countermeasure. 
Public Health Reports  2003;118(2):99-114.
Bioterrorism is an area of increasing public health concern. The intent of this article is to review the air cleansing technologies available to protect building occupants from the intentional release of bioterror agents into congregate spaces (such as offices, schools, auditoriums, and transportation centers), as well as through outside air intakes and by way of recirculation air ducts. Current available technologies include increased ventilation, filtration, and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) UVGI is a common tool in laboratories and health care facilities, but is not familiar to the public, or to some heating, ventilation, and air conditioning engineers. Interest in UVGI is increasing as concern about a possible malicious release of bioterror agents mounts. Recent applications of UVGI have focused on control of tuberculosis transmission, but a wide range of airborne respiratory pathogens are susceptible to deactivation by UVGI. In this article, the authors provide an overview of air disinfection technologies, and an in-depth analysis of UVGI-its history, applications, and effectiveness.
PMCID: PMC1497517  PMID: 12690064
2.  Source, significance, and control of indoor microbial aerosols: human health aspects. 
Public Health Reports  1983;98(3):229-244.
The usual profile of indoor microbial aerosols probably has little meaning to healthy people. However, hazardous microbial aerosols can penetrate buildings or be generated within them; in either case, they can have significant adverse effects on human health. These aerosols can be controlled to some extent by eliminating or reducing their sources. In this regard, careful consideration should be given in building construction to the design of ventilation and air-conditioning systems and to the flooring material, so that these systems and the flooring material will not act as microbial reservoirs. It is evident that in spite of the considerable body of data available on indoor microbial aerosols, little is known of their true significance to human health except in terms of overt epidemic disease. Continued research is needed in this area, particularly in respect to situations of high risk in such locations as hospitals and schools for young children.
PMCID: PMC1424447  PMID: 6867255
3.  Architectural design influences the diversity and structure of the built environment microbiome 
The ISME Journal  2012;6(8):1469-1479.
Buildings are complex ecosystems that house trillions of microorganisms interacting with each other, with humans and with their environment. Understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes that determine the diversity and composition of the built environment microbiome—the community of microorganisms that live indoors—is important for understanding the relationship between building design, biodiversity and human health. In this study, we used high-throughput sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene to quantify relationships between building attributes and airborne bacterial communities at a health-care facility. We quantified airborne bacterial community structure and environmental conditions in patient rooms exposed to mechanical or window ventilation and in outdoor air. The phylogenetic diversity of airborne bacterial communities was lower indoors than outdoors, and mechanically ventilated rooms contained less diverse microbial communities than did window-ventilated rooms. Bacterial communities in indoor environments contained many taxa that are absent or rare outdoors, including taxa closely related to potential human pathogens. Building attributes, specifically the source of ventilation air, airflow rates, relative humidity and temperature, were correlated with the diversity and composition of indoor bacterial communities. The relative abundance of bacteria closely related to human pathogens was higher indoors than outdoors, and higher in rooms with lower airflow rates and lower relative humidity. The observed relationship between building design and airborne bacterial diversity suggests that we can manage indoor environments, altering through building design and operation the community of microbial species that potentially colonize the human microbiome during our time indoors.
PMCID: PMC3400407  PMID: 22278670
aeromicrobiology; bacteria; built environment microbiome; community ecology; dispersal; environmental filtering
4.  Control of airborne infectious diseases in ventilated spaces 
Journal of the Royal Society Interface  2009;6(Suppl 6):S747-S755.
We protect ourselves from airborne cross-infection in the indoor environment by supplying fresh air to a room by natural or mechanical ventilation. The air is distributed in the room according to different principles: mixing ventilation, displacement ventilation, etc. A large amount of air is supplied to the room to ensure a dilution of airborne infection. Analyses of the flow in the room show that there are a number of parameters that play an important role in minimizing airborne cross-infection. The air flow rate to the room must be high, and the air distribution pattern can be designed to have high ventilation effectiveness. Furthermore, personalized ventilation may reduce the risk of cross-infection, and in some cases, it can also reduce the source of infection. Personalized ventilation can especially be used in hospital wards, aircraft cabins and, in general, where people are in fixed positions.
PMCID: PMC2843946  PMID: 19740921
airborne disease; cross-infection; ventilated spaces; room air distribution; indoor environment
5.  Exposure to halogenated hydrocarbons in the indoor environment. 
The indoor environment has frequently been ignored as a significant source of exposure to air pollutants. To date there are a number of documented examples of levels of indoor air pollutants greatly exceeding those levels which commonly occur in the outdoor environment. Among these instances are airborne buildup of polynuclear aromatics and cadmium from cigarette smoke, lead from burning candles, and vinyl chloride from use of aerosols containing this substance as a propellant. These examples suggest that there may be additional sources of indoor air pollutants, particularly halogenated hydrocarbons from aerosol products, which have heretofore not been generally recognized as important. The present paper endeavors to review those instances where halogenated hydrocarbons in the indoor air environment may build up to concentrations of potential public health concern. These considerations may be especially relevant in future years as increasing efforts are being made to insulate buildings more efficiently as a means to conserve energy. The available data strongly suggest that halogenated hydrocarbons are an important class of air pollutants in the indoor environment and that their presence in the outdoor environment should also be carefully examined. In this regard, halogenated hydrocarbons in the outdoor environment may also contaminate indoor air spaces.
PMCID: PMC1475171  PMID: 1175557
6.  Characterization of UVC Light Sensitivity of Vaccinia Virus▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(18):5760-5766.
Interest in airborne smallpox transmission has been renewed because of concerns regarding the potential use of smallpox virus as a biothreat agent. Air disinfection via upper-room 254-nm germicidal UV (UVC) light in public buildings may reduce the impact of primary agent releases, prevent secondary airborne transmission, and be effective prior to the time when public health authorities are aware of a smallpox outbreak. We characterized the susceptibility of vaccinia virus aerosols, as a surrogate for smallpox, to UVC light by using a benchtop, one-pass aerosol chamber. We evaluated virus susceptibility to UVC doses ranging from 0.1 to 3.2 J/m2, three relative humidity (RH) levels (20%, 60%, and 80%), and suspensions of virus in either water or synthetic respiratory fluid. Dose-response plots show that vaccinia virus susceptibility increased with decreasing RH. These plots also show a significant nonlinear component and a poor fit when using a first-order decay model but show a reasonable fit when we assume that virus susceptibility follows a log-normal distribution. The overall effects of RH (P < 0.0001) and the suspending medium (P = 0.014) were statistically significant. When controlling for the suspending medium, the RH remained a significant factor (P < 0.0001) and the effect of the suspending medium was significant overall (P < 0.0001) after controlling for RH. Virus susceptibility did not appear to be a function of virus particle size. This work provides an essential scientific basis for the design of effective upper-room UVC installations for the prevention of airborne infection transmission of smallpox virus by characterizing the susceptibility of an important orthopoxvirus to UVC exposure.
PMCID: PMC2074914  PMID: 17644645
7.  Human Occupancy as a Source of Indoor Airborne Bacteria 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34867.
Exposure to specific airborne bacteria indoors is linked to infectious and noninfectious adverse health outcomes. However, the sources and origins of bacteria suspended in indoor air are not well understood. This study presents evidence for elevated concentrations of indoor airborne bacteria due to human occupancy, and investigates the sources of these bacteria. Samples were collected in a university classroom while occupied and when vacant. The total particle mass concentration, bacterial genome concentration, and bacterial phylogenetic populations were characterized in indoor, outdoor, and ventilation duct supply air, as well as in the dust of ventilation system filters and in floor dust. Occupancy increased the total aerosol mass and bacterial genome concentration in indoor air PM10 and PM2.5 size fractions, with an increase of nearly two orders of magnitude in airborne bacterial genome concentration in PM10. On a per mass basis, floor dust was enriched in bacterial genomes compared to airborne particles. Quantitative comparisons between bacterial populations in indoor air and potential sources suggest that resuspended floor dust is an important contributor to bacterial aerosol populations during occupancy. Experiments that controlled for resuspension from the floor implies that direct human shedding may also significantly impact the concentration of indoor airborne particles. The high content of bacteria specific to the skin, nostrils, and hair of humans found in indoor air and in floor dust indicates that floors are an important reservoir of human-associated bacteria, and that the direct particle shedding of desquamated skin cells and their subsequent resuspension strongly influenced the airborne bacteria population structure in this human-occupied environment. Inhalation exposure to microbes shed by other current or previous human occupants may occur in communal indoor environments.
PMCID: PMC3329548  PMID: 22529946
8.  An indoor system for the study of biological aerosols in open air conditions 
The Journal of Hygiene  1971;69(4):607-617.
An indoor system designed for the study of survival of airborne micro-organisms in closed conditions has been successfully modified to allow the effect of open air to be measured. It was found that the unidentified open-air factors which are toxic for many species of microbes and rapidly lost when enclosed in conventional laboratory apparatus could be retained in the system by continuous ventilation at an adequate rate. The rate required allowed examination of Escherichia coli in aerosols generated from small amounts of material because of the short periods of ventilation required for appreciable viable decay to occur.
The validity of the system was tested by comparing the survival of E. coli in true aerosols with its survival when the droplets were held on microthread. An investigation of the role of relative humidity in open-air toxicity was included.
PMCID: PMC2131042  PMID: 4944177
9.  Concentrations and size distributions of airborne influenza A viruses measured indoors at a health centre, a day-care centre and on aeroplanes 
The relative importance of the aerosol transmission route for influenza remains contentious. To determine the potential for influenza to spread via the aerosol route, we measured the size distribution of airborne influenza A viruses. We collected size-segregated aerosol samples during the 2009–2010 flu season in a health centre, a day-care facility and onboard aeroplanes. Filter extracts were analysed using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Half of the 16 samples were positive, and their total virus concentrations ranged from 5800 to 37 000 genome copies m−3. On average, 64 per cent of the viral genome copies were associated with fine particles smaller than 2.5 µm, which can remain suspended for hours. Modelling of virus concentrations indoors suggested a source strength of 1.6 ± 1.2 × 105 genome copies m−3 air h−1 and a deposition flux onto surfaces of 13 ± 7 genome copies m−2 h−1 by Brownian motion. Over 1 hour, the inhalation dose was estimated to be 30 ± 18 median tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50), adequate to induce infection. These results provide quantitative support for the idea that the aerosol route could be an important mode of influenza transmission.
PMCID: PMC3119883  PMID: 21300628
influenza; bioaerosol; size distribution; aerosol transmission; emissions; deposition
10.  Role of Differential Air Pressure Zones in the Control of Aerosols in a Large Animal Isolation Facility 
Applied Microbiology  1966;14(4):674-678.
The uncontrolled transmission of hog cholera in a large animal isolation facility, designed to control the movement of aerosols within and between individual wings of a multiunit building, indicated the need for a critical study of aerosol behavior under existing conditions of operation. Studies with aerosols of Escherichia coli B T3 bacteriophage (T3 coliphage) conclusively demonstrated the impossibility of obtaining the desired control by means of a “static” air balance relationship between adjacent areas within the facility. Modifications needed to provide the desired control of the air-handling system are outlined and discussed.
PMCID: PMC546810  PMID: 5951332
11.  A ventilation intervention study in classrooms to improve indoor air quality: the FRESH study 
Environmental Health  2013;12:110.
Classroom ventilation rates often do not meet building standards, although it is considered to be important to improve indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality is thought to influence both children’s health and performance. Poor ventilation in The Netherlands most often occurs in the heating season. To improve classroom ventilation a tailor made mechanical ventilation device was developed to improve outdoor air supply. This paper studies the effect of this intervention.
The FRESH study (Forced-ventilation Related Environmental School Health) was designed to investigate the effect of a CO2 controlled mechanical ventilation intervention on classroom CO2 levels using a longitudinal cross-over design. Target CO2 concentrations were 800 and 1200 parts per million (ppm), respectively. The study included 18 classrooms from 17 schools from the north-eastern part of The Netherlands, 12 experimental classrooms and 6 control classrooms. Data on indoor levels of CO2, temperature and relative humidity were collected during three consecutive weeks per school during the heating seasons of 2010–2012. Associations between the intervention and weekly average indoor CO2 levels, classroom temperature and relative humidity were assessed by means of mixed models with random school-effects.
At baseline, mean CO2 concentration for all schools was 1335 ppm (range: 763–2000 ppm). The intervention was able to significantly decrease CO2 levels in the intervention classrooms (F (2,10) = 17.59, p < 0.001), with a mean decrease of 491 ppm. With the target set at 800 ppm, mean CO2 was 841 ppm (range: 743–925 ppm); with the target set at 1200 ppm, mean CO2 was 975 ppm (range: 887–1077 ppm).
Although the device was not capable of precisely achieving the two predefined levels of CO2, our study showed that classroom CO2 levels can be reduced by intervening on classroom ventilation using a CO2 controlled mechanical ventilation system.
PMCID: PMC3893609  PMID: 24345039
Ventilation; Schools; Carbon dioxide; Indoor air quality; Intervention
12.  Dynamics of Airborne Influenza A Viruses Indoors and Dependence on Humidity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21481.
There is mounting evidence that the aerosol transmission route plays a significant role in the spread of influenza in temperate regions and that the efficiency of this route depends on humidity. Nevertheless, the precise mechanisms by which humidity might influence transmissibility via the aerosol route have not been elucidated. We hypothesize that airborne concentrations of infectious influenza A viruses (IAVs) vary with humidity through its influence on virus inactivation rate and respiratory droplet size. To gain insight into the mechanisms by which humidity might influence aerosol transmission, we modeled the size distribution and dynamics of IAVs emitted from a cough in typical residential and public settings over a relative humidity (RH) range of 10–90%. The model incorporates the size transformation of virus-containing droplets due to evaporation and then removal by gravitational settling, ventilation, and virus inactivation. The predicted concentration of infectious IAVs in air is 2.4 times higher at 10% RH than at 90% RH after 10 min in a residential setting, and this ratio grows over time. Settling is important for removal of large droplets containing large amounts of IAVs, while ventilation and inactivation are relatively more important for removal of IAVs associated with droplets <5 µm. The inactivation rate increases linearly with RH; at the highest RH, inactivation can remove up to 28% of IAVs in 10 min. Humidity is an important variable in aerosol transmission of IAVs because it both induces droplet size transformation and affects IAV inactivation rates. Our model advances a mechanistic understanding of the aerosol transmission route, and results complement recent studies on the relationship between humidity and influenza's seasonality. Maintaining a high indoor RH and ventilation rate may help reduce chances of IAV infection.
PMCID: PMC3123350  PMID: 21731764
13.  Inactivation of Poxviruses by Upper-Room UVC Light in a Simulated Hospital Room Environment 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(9):e3186.
In the event of a smallpox outbreak due to bioterrorism, delays in vaccination programs may lead to significant secondary transmission. In the early phases of such an outbreak, transmission of smallpox will take place especially in locations where infected persons may congregate, such as hospital emergency rooms. Air disinfection using upper-room 254 nm (UVC) light can lower the airborne concentrations of infective viruses in the lower part of the room, and thereby control the spread of airborne infections among room occupants without exposing occupants to a significant amount of UVC. Using vaccinia virus aerosols as a surrogate for smallpox we report on the effectiveness of air disinfection, via upper-room UVC light, under simulated real world conditions including the effects of convection, mechanical mixing, temperature and relative humidity. In decay experiments, upper-room UVC fixtures used with mixing by a conventional ceiling fan produced decreases in airborne virus concentrations that would require additional ventilation of more than 87 air changes per hour. Under steady state conditions the effective air changes per hour associated with upper-room UVC ranged from 18 to 1000. The surprisingly high end of the observed range resulted from the extreme susceptibility of vaccinia virus to UVC at low relative humidity and use of 4 UVC fixtures in a small room with efficient air mixing. Increasing the number of UVC fixtures or mechanical ventilation rates resulted in greater fractional reduction in virus aerosol and UVC effectiveness was higher in winter compared to summer for each scenario tested. These data demonstrate that upper-room UVC has the potential to greatly reduce exposure to susceptible viral aerosols. The greater survival at baseline and greater UVC susceptibility of vaccinia under winter conditions suggest that while risk from an aerosol attack with smallpox would be greatest in winter, protective measures using UVC may also be most efficient at this time. These data may also be relevant to influenza, which also has improved aerosol survival at low RH and somewhat similar sensitivity to UVC.
PMCID: PMC2527528  PMID: 18781204
14.  Some aspects of the airborne transmission of infection 
Journal of the Royal Society Interface  2009;6(Suppl 6):S767-S782.
The relationship between the human body and the dissemination of potentially pathogenic particles and droplets is described. Airborne transmission of infection in operating theatres and a burns unit and the part played by the human microclimate and its interaction with ventilating air flows is discussed. The mechanisms by which different garment assemblies used for surgery can enhance particle dispersion are illustrated and the way that floor cleaning can increase the concentration of airborne organisms is described. The development of the successful use of ultra-clean air systems in orthopaedic implant surgery is reviewed. Relationships between contact and airborne transmission of disease are explored and ways by which containment strategies and metrics used in pharmaceutical and electronics manufacturing can be applied to the design and monitoring of healthcare areas is discussed. It is suggested that currently available techniques involving architectural, ventilation and operational aspects of healthcare provision, when properly applied, can markedly improve treatment outcomes that may otherwise be compromised by hospital-acquired infections involving both bacteria and viruses.
PMCID: PMC2843950  PMID: 19815574
airborne; transmission; infection
15.  Exposure of health care workers to ribavirin during therapy for respiratory syncytial virus infections. 
Health care workers (HCW) are exposed to ribavirin aerosol during therapy of infants with respiratory syncytial virus infections. To assess the degree of HCW exposure, we analyzed air samples from patient rooms and HCW personal breathing zones during ribavirin aerosol delivery by ventilator (two samples), oxygen hood (two samples), and a new vacuum exhaust hood (four samples). HCW exposure to ribavirin during aerosol delivery by ventilator or vacuum exhaust hood system was substantially lower than HCW exposure during aerosol delivery by oxygen hood in rooms with adequate ventilation.
PMCID: PMC171665  PMID: 2344173
16.  Natural ventilation reduces high TB transmission risk in traditional homes in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:300.
Transmission of drug susceptible and drug resistant TB occurs in health care facilities, and community and households settings, particularly in highly prevalent TB and HIV areas. There is a paucity of data regarding factors that may affect TB transmission risk in household settings. We evaluated air exchange and the impact of natural ventilation on estimated TB transmission risk in traditional Zulu homes in rural South Africa.
We utilized a carbon dioxide decay technique to measure ventilation in air changes per hour (ACH). We evaluated predominant home types to determine factors affecting ACH and used the Wells-Riley equation to estimate TB transmission risk.
Two hundred eighteen ventilation measurements were taken in 24 traditional homes. All had low ventilation at baseline when windows were closed (mean ACH = 3, SD = 3.0), with estimated TB transmission risk of 55.4% over a ten hour period of exposure to an infectious TB patient. There was significant improvement with opening windows and door, reaching a mean ACH of 20 (SD = 13.1, p < 0.0001) resulting in significant decrease in estimated TB transmission risk to 9.6% (p < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis identified factors predicting ACH, including ventilation conditions (windows/doors open) and window to volume ratio. Expanding ventilation increased the odds of achieving ≥12 ACH by 60-fold.
There is high estimated risk of TB transmission in traditional homes of infectious TB patients in rural South Africa. Improving natural ventilation may decrease household TB transmission risk and, combined with other strategies, may enhance TB control efforts.
PMCID: PMC3716713  PMID: 23815441
Tuberculosis transmission; MDR/XDR TB; Household; South Africa; Infection control; Ventilation
17.  Aerosol Susceptibility of Influenza Virus to UV-C Light 
The person-to-person transmission of influenza virus, especially in the event of a pandemic caused by a highly virulent strain of influenza, such as H5N1 avian influenza, is of great concern due to widespread mortality and morbidity. The consequences of seasonal influenza are also substantial. Because airborne transmission appears to play a role in the spread of influenza, public health interventions should focus on preventing or interrupting this process. Air disinfection via upper-room 254-nm germicidal UV (UV-C) light in public buildings may be able to reduce influenza transmission via the airborne route. We characterized the susceptibility of influenza A virus (H1N1, PR-8) aerosols to UV-C light using a benchtop chamber equipped with a UVC exposure window. We evaluated virus susceptibility to UV-C doses ranging from 4 to 12 J/m2 at three relative humidity levels (25, 50, and 75%). Our data show that the Z values (susceptibility factors) were higher (more susceptible) to UV-C than what has been reported previously. Furthermore, dose-response plots showed that influenza virus susceptibility increases with decreasing relative humidity. This work provides an essential scientific basis for designing and utilizing effective upper-room UV-C light installations for the prevention of the airborne transmission of influenza by characterizing its susceptibility to UV-C.
PMCID: PMC3298127  PMID: 22226954
18.  Perspective Paper: Assessing Air Quality as Part of a Physical Therapy Plan of Care 
Purpose: The purposes of this clinical perspective paper are (1) to expand physical therapists’ awareness to the topic of air quality as a health priority when providing professional services; and (2) to provide templates for screening the indoor clinical environments and patient profiles to avert respiratory exacerbations, especially in persons with asthma. Summary of Key Points: The location where a physical therapist practices determines the air quality indices to which a person is exposed. Poor indoor air quality can expose a person to even greater compromise of respiration (ie, Sick Building Syndrome) than outdoor air quality secondary to an array of factors like building materials, the ventilation exchange rate of an enclosed space, chemicals used in cleaning, and humidity. Statement of Conclusions: Extrinsic (ie, environmental) and intrinsic (eg, pre-disposition to airway hypersensitivity) factors must be accounted for by physical therapists to safeguard their patients and themselves from experiencing respiratory compromise and/or distress as a result of a treatment session or their place of employment. Recommendations: Efforts to screen indoor environments for potential triggers and patient risk profiles for abnormal airway reactivity should routinely be undertaken. Individualized Action Plans should be prospectively prepared and readied for implementation when warranted.
PMCID: PMC3056841  PMID: 21448345
asthma; Sick Building Syndrome; indoor air quality; respiratory impairment
19.  The effectiveness of an air cleaner in controlling droplet/aerosol particle dispersion emitted from a patient's mouth in the indoor environment of dental clinics 
Dental healthcare workers (DHCWs) are at high risk of occupational exposure to droplets and aerosol particles emitted from patients' mouths during treatment. We evaluated the effectiveness of an air cleaner in reducing droplet and aerosol contamination by positioning the device in four different locations in an actual dental clinic. We applied computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methods to solve the governing equations of airflow, energy and dispersion of different-sized airborne droplets/aerosol particles. In a dental clinic, we measured the supply air velocity and temperature of the ventilation system, the airflow rate and the particle removal efficiency of the air cleaner to determine the boundary conditions for the CFD simulations. Our results indicate that use of an air cleaner in a dental clinic may be an effective method for reducing DHCWs' exposure to airborne droplets and aerosol particles. Further, we found that the probability of droplet/aerosol particle removal and the direction of airflow from the cleaner are both important control measures for droplet and aerosol contamination in a dental clinic. Thus, the distance between the air cleaner and droplet/aerosol particle source as well as the relative location of the air cleaner to both the source and the DHCW are important considerations for reducing DHCWs' exposure to droplets/aerosol particles emitted from the patient's mouth during treatments.
PMCID: PMC2880082  PMID: 20031985
indoor environment; computational fluid dynamics; droplets; aerosol particles; dental clinic; air cleaner
20.  A Comprehensive Breath Plume Model for Disease Transmission via Expiratory Aerosols 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37088.
The peak in influenza incidence during wintertime in temperate regions represents a longstanding, unresolved scientific question. One hypothesis is that the efficacy of airborne transmission via aerosols is increased at lower humidities and temperatures, conditions that prevail in wintertime. Recent work with a guinea pig model by Lowen et al. indicated that humidity and temperature do modulate airborne influenza virus transmission, and several investigators have interpreted the observed humidity dependence in terms of airborne virus survivability. This interpretation, however, neglects two key observations: the effect of ambient temperature on the viral growth kinetics within the animals, and the strong influence of the background airflow on transmission. Here we provide a comprehensive theoretical framework for assessing the probability of disease transmission via expiratory aerosols between test animals in laboratory conditions. The spread of aerosols emitted from an infected animal is modeled using dispersion theory for a homogeneous turbulent airflow. The concentration and size distribution of the evaporating droplets in the resulting “Gaussian breath plume” are calculated as functions of position, humidity, and temperature. The overall transmission probability is modeled with a combination of the time-dependent viral concentration in the infected animal and the probability of droplet inhalation by the exposed animal downstream. We demonstrate that the breath plume model is broadly consistent with the results of Lowen et al., without invoking airborne virus survivability. The results also suggest that, at least for guinea pigs, variation in viral kinetics within the infected animals is the dominant factor explaining the increased transmission probability observed at lower temperatures.
PMCID: PMC3352828  PMID: 22615902
21.  Respiratory Source Control Using Surgical Masks With Nanofiber Media 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2014;58(6):771-781.
Potentially infected individuals (‘source’) are sometimes encouraged to use face masks to reduce exposure of their infectious aerosols to others (‘receiver’). To improve compliance with Respiratory Source Control via face mask and therefore reduce receiver exposure, a mask should be comfortable and effective. We tested a novel face mask designed to improve breathability and filtration using nanofiber filtration.
Using radiolabeled test aerosols and a calibrated exposure chamber simulating source to receiver interaction, facepiece function was measured with a life-like ventilated manikin model. Measurements included mask airflow resistance (pressure difference during breathing), filtration, (mask capture of exhaled radiolabeled test aerosols), and exposure (the transfer of ‘infectious’ aerosols from the ‘source’ to a ‘receiver’). Polydisperse aerosols were measured at the source with a mass median aerodynamic diameter of 0.95 µm. Approximately 90% of the particles were <2.0 µm. Tested facepieces included nanofiber prototype surgical masks, conventional surgical masks, and for comparison, an N95-class filtering facepiece respirator (commonly known as an ‘N95 respirator’). Airflow through and around conventional surgical face mask and nanofiber prototype face mask was visualized using Schlieren optical imaging.
Airflow resistance [ΔP, cmH2O] across sealed surgical masks (means: 0.1865 and 0.1791 cmH2O) approached that of the N95 (mean: 0.2664 cmH2O). The airflow resistance across the nanofiber face mask whether sealed or not sealed (0.0504 and 0.0311 cmH2O) was significantly reduced in comparison. In addition, ‘infected’ source airflow filtration and receiver exposure levels for nanofiber face masks placed on the source were comparable to that achieved with N95 placed on the source; 98.98% versus 82.68% and 0.0194 versus 0.0557, respectively. Compared to deflection within and around the conventional face masks, Schlieren optical imaging demonstrated enhanced airflow through the nanofiber mask.
Substituting nanofiber for conventional filter media significantly reduced face mask airflow resistance directing more airflow through the face mask resulting in enhanced filtration. Respiratory source control efficacy similar to that achieved through the use of an N95 respirator worn by the source and decreased airflow resistance using nanofiber masks may improve compliance and reduce receiver exposure.
PMCID: PMC4090760  PMID: 24737728
healthcare worker protection; mask comfort; mask compliance
22.  Methods for Sampling of Airborne Viruses 
Summary: To better understand the underlying mechanisms of aerovirology, accurate sampling of airborne viruses is fundamental. The sampling instruments commonly used in aerobiology have also been used to recover viruses suspended in the air. We reviewed over 100 papers to evaluate the methods currently used for viral aerosol sampling. Differentiating infections caused by direct contact from those caused by airborne dissemination can be a very demanding task given the wide variety of sources of viral aerosols. While epidemiological data can help to determine the source of the contamination, direct data obtained from air samples can provide very useful information for risk assessment purposes. Many types of samplers have been used over the years, including liquid impingers, solid impactors, filters, electrostatic precipitators, and many others. The efficiencies of these samplers depend on a variety of environmental and methodological factors that can affect the integrity of the virus structure. The aerodynamic size distribution of the aerosol also has a direct effect on sampler efficiency. Viral aerosols can be studied under controlled laboratory conditions, using biological or nonbiological tracers and surrogate viruses, which are also discussed in this review. Lastly, general recommendations are made regarding future studies on the sampling of airborne viruses.
PMCID: PMC2546863  PMID: 18772283
23.  Modeling the airborne survival of influenza virus in a residential setting: the impacts of home humidification 
Environmental Health  2010;9:55.
Laboratory research studies indicate that aerosolized influenza viruses survive for longer periods at low relative humidity (RH) conditions. Further analysis has shown that absolute humidity (AH) may be an improved predictor of virus survival in the environment. Maintaining airborne moisture levels that reduce survival of the virus in the air and on surfaces could be another tool for managing public health risks of influenza.
A multi-zone indoor air quality model was used to evaluate the ability of portable humidifiers to control moisture content of the air and the potential related benefit of decreasing survival of influenza viruses in single-family residences. We modeled indoor AH and influenza virus concentrations during winter months (Northeast US) using the CONTAM multi-zone indoor air quality model. A two-story residential template was used under two different ventilation conditions - forced hot air and radiant heating. Humidity was evaluated on a room-specific and whole house basis. Estimates of emission rates for influenza virus were particle-size specific and derived from published studies and included emissions during both tidal breathing and coughing events. The survival of the influenza virus was determined based on the established relationship between AH and virus survival.
The presence of a portable humidifier with an output of 0.16 kg water per hour in the bedroom resulted in an increase in median sleeping hours AH/RH levels of 11 to 19% compared to periods without a humidifier present. The associated percent decrease in influenza virus survival was 17.5 - 31.6%. Distribution of water vapor through a residence was estimated to yield 3 to 12% increases in AH/RH and 7.8-13.9% reductions in influenza virus survival.
This modeling analysis demonstrates the potential benefit of portable residential humidifiers in reducing the survival of aerosolized influenza virus by controlling humidity indoors.
PMCID: PMC2940868  PMID: 20815876
24.  The Infectiousness of Tuberculosis Patients Coinfected with HIV 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(9):e188.
The current understanding of airborne tuberculosis (TB) transmission is based on classic 1950s studies in which guinea pigs were exposed to air from a tuberculosis ward. Recently we recreated this model in Lima, Perú, and in this paper we report the use of molecular fingerprinting to investigate patient infectiousness in the current era of HIV infection and multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB.
Methods and Findings
All air from a mechanically ventilated negative-pressure HIV-TB ward was exhausted over guinea pigs housed in an airborne transmission study facility on the roof. Animals had monthly tuberculin skin tests, and positive reactors were removed for autopsy and organ culture for M. tuberculosis. Temporal exposure patterns, drug susceptibility testing, and DNA fingerprinting of patient and animal TB strains defined infectious TB patients. Relative patient infectiousness was calculated using the Wells-Riley model of airborne infection. Over 505 study days there were 118 ward admissions of 97 HIV-positive pulmonary TB patients. Of 292 exposed guinea pigs, 144 had evidence of TB disease; a further 30 were tuberculin skin test positive only. There was marked variability in patient infectiousness; only 8.5% of 118 ward admissions by TB patients were shown by DNA fingerprinting to have caused 98% of the 125 characterised cases of secondary animal TB. 90% of TB transmission occurred from inadequately treated MDR TB patients. Three highly infectious MDR TB patients produced 226, 52, and 40 airborne infectious units (quanta) per hour.
A small number of inadequately treated MDR TB patients coinfected with HIV were responsible for almost all TB transmission, and some patients were highly infectious. This result highlights the importance of rapid TB drug-susceptibility testing to allow prompt initiation of effective treatment, and environmental control measures to reduce ongoing TB transmission in crowded health care settings. TB infection control must be prioritized in order to prevent health care facilities from disseminating the drug-resistant TB that they are attempting to treat.
Using a guinea pig detection system above an HIV-tuberculosis ward, Rod Escombe and colleagues found that most transmitted tuberculosis originated from patients with inadequately treated multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
Editors' Summary
Every year, more than nine million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious infection usually of the lungs—and nearly two million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These bacteria are spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. Most people infected with M. tuberculosis never become ill—their immune system contains the infection. However, the bacteria remain dormant within the body and can cause tuberculosis years later if host immunity declines. The symptoms of tuberculosis include a persistent cough, weight loss, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests for the disease include chest X-rays, the tuberculin skin test, and sputum cultures (in which bacteriologists try to grow M. tuberculosis from mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing). Tuberculosis can usually be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics daily for several months.
Why Was This Study Done?
Scientists performed definitive experiments on airborne tuberculosis transmission in the 1950s by exposing guinea pigs to the air from a tuberculosis ward. They found that a minority of patients actually transmit tuberculosis, that the infectiousness of transmitters varies greatly, and that effective antibiotic treatment decreases infectiousness. Since the 1950s, however, multidrug-resistant (MDR) and more recently extensively drug-resistant (XDR) strains of M. tuberculosis have become widespread. Treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis is much more difficult than normal tuberculosis, requiring even more antibiotics, and for long periods, up to 2 years and beyond. In addition, HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) has emerged. HIV weakens the immune system so HIV-positive people are much more likely to develop active tuberculosis (and to die from the disease, which also speeds the development of HIV/AIDS) than people with a healthy immune system. Have these changes altered tuberculosis transmission between people? The answer to this question might help to optimize the control of tuberculosis infection, particularly in hospitals. In this study, the researchers investigate current patterns of tuberculosis infectiousness among HIV-positive patients by recreating the 1950s guinea pig model for tuberculosis transmission in a hospital in Lima, Perú.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers passed all the air from an HIV–tuberculosis ward over guinea pigs housed in an animal facility on the hospital's roof. The guinea pigs were tested monthly with tuberculin skin tests, and tissues from positive animals were examined for infection with M. tuberculosis. Sputum was also collected daily from the patients on the ward. The researchers then used the timing of patient admissions and guinea pig infections, together with the drug susceptibility patterns and DNA fingerprints of the M. tuberculosis strains isolated from the animals and the patients, to identify which patients had infected which guinea pigs. Finally, they used a mathematical equation to calculate the relative infectiousness of each patient in airborne infectious units (“quanta”) per hour. During the 505 study days, although 97 HIV-positive patients with tuberculosis were admitted to the ward, just ten patients were responsible for virtually all the characterized cases of tuberculosis among the guinea pigs. Six of these patients had MDR tuberculosis that had been suboptimally treated. The average patient infectiousness over the entire study period was 8.2 quanta per hour—six times greater than the average infectiousness recorded in the 1950s. Finally, the three most infectious patients (all of whom had suboptimally treated MDR tuberculosis) produced 226, 52, and 40 quanta per hour.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that a few inadequately treated HIV-positive patients with MDR tuberculosis caused nearly all the tuberculosis transmission to guinea pigs during this study. They also show for the first time that tuberculosis infectiousness among HIV-positive patients is very variable. The increase in the average patient infectiousness in this study compared to that seen in the 1950s hints at the possibility that HIV infection might increase tuberculosis infectiousness. However, studies that directly compare the tuberculosis infectiousness of HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients are needed to test this possibility. More importantly, this study demonstrates the potentially high infectiousness of inadequately treated MDR TB patients and their importance in ongoing TB transmission. These findings suggest that rapid, routine testing of antibiotic susceptibility should improve tuberculosis control by ensuring that patients with MDR TB are identified and treated effectively and quickly. Finally, they re-emphasize the importance of implementing environmental control measures (for example, adequate natural or mechanical ventilation of tuberculosis wards, or crowded waiting rooms or emergency departments where tuberculosis patients may be found) to prevent airborne tuberculosis transmission in health-care facilities, particularly in areas where many patients are HIV positive and/or where MDR tuberculosis is common.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including multidrug-resistance tuberculosis, and on tuberculosis and HIV
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide several fact sheets and other information resources about all aspects of tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization's 2008 report on global tuberculosis control—surveillance, planning, financing provides a snapshot of the current state of the global tuberculosis epidemic and links to information about all aspects of tuberculosis and its control (in several languages)
HIVInsite provides detailed information about coinfection with HIV and tuberculosis
• Avert, an international AIDS charity, also provides information about the interaction between HIV and tuberculosis
Tuberculosis Infection-Control in the Era of Expanding HIV Care and Treatment is a report from the World Health Organization
PMCID: PMC2535657  PMID: 18798687
25.  Air Cleaning Technologies 
Executive Summary
This health technology policy assessment will answer the following questions:
When should in-room air cleaners be used?
How effective are in-room air cleaners?
Are in-room air cleaners that use combined HEPA and UVGI air cleaning technology more effective than those that use HEPA filtration alone?
What is the Plasmacluster ion air purifier in the pandemic influenza preparation plan?
The experience of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) locally, nationally, and internationally underscored the importance of administrative, environmental, and personal protective infection control measures in health care facilities. In the aftermath of the SARS crisis, there was a need for a clearer understanding of Ontario’s capacity to manage suspected or confirmed cases of airborne infectious diseases. In so doing, the Walker Commission thought that more attention should be paid to the potential use of new technologies such as in-room air cleaning units. It recommended that the Medical Advisory Secretariat of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care evaluate the appropriate use and effectiveness of such new technologies.
Accordingly, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee asked the Medical Advisory Secretariat to review the literature on the effectiveness and utility of in-room air cleaners that use high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) filters and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) air cleaning technology.
Additionally, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee prioritized a request from the ministry’s Emergency Management Unit to investigate the possible role of the Plasmacluster ion air purifier manufactured by Sharp Electronics Corporation, in the pandemic influenza preparation plan.
Clinical Need
Airborne transmission of infectious diseases depends in part on the concentration of breathable infectious pathogens (germs) in room air. Infection control is achieved by a combination of administrative, engineering, and personal protection methods. Engineering methods that are usually carried out by the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system function to prevent the spread of airborne infectious pathogens by diluting (dilution ventilation) and removing (exhaust ventilation) contaminated air from a room, controlling the direction of airflow and the air flow patterns in a building. However, general wear and tear over time may compromise the HVAC system’s effectiveness to maintain adequate indoor air quality. Likewise, economic issues may curtail the completion of necessary renovations to increase its effectiveness. Therefore, when exposure to airborne infectious pathogens is a risk, the use of an in-room air cleaner to reduce the concentration of airborne pathogens and prevent the spread of airborne infectious diseases has been proposed as an alternative to renovating a HVAC system.
Airborne transmission is the spread of infectious pathogens over large distances through the air. Infectious pathogens, which may include fungi, bacteria, and viruses, vary in size and can be dispersed into the air in drops of moisture after coughing or sneezing. Small drops of moisture carrying infectious pathogens are called droplet nuclei. Droplet nuclei are about 1 to 5μm in diameter. This small size in part allows them to remain suspended in the air for several hours and be carried by air currents over considerable distances. Large drops of moisture carrying infectious pathogens are called droplets. Droplets being larger than droplet nuclei, travel shorter distances (about 1 metre) before rapidly falling out of the air to the ground. Because droplet nuclei remain airborne for longer periods than do droplets, they are more amenable to engineering infection control methods than are droplets.
Droplet nuclei are responsible for the airborne transmission of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, chicken pox (varicella), measles (rubeola), and dessiminated herpes zoster, whereas close contact is required for the direct transmission of infectious diseases transmitted by droplets, such as influenza (the flu) and SARS.
The Technology
In-room air cleaners are supplied as portable or fixed devices. Fixed devices can be attached to either a wall or ceiling and are preferred over portable units because they have a greater degree of reliability (if installed properly) for achieving adequate room air mixing and airflow patterns, which are important for optimal effectiveness.
Through a method of air recirculation, an in-room air cleaner can be used to increase room ventilation rates and if used to exhaust air out of the room it can create a negative-pressure room for airborne infection isolation (AII) when the building’s HVAC system cannot do so. A negative-pressure room is one where clean air flows into the room but contaminated air does not flow out of it. Contaminated room air is pulled into the in-room air cleaner and cleaned by passing through a series of filters, which remove the airborne infectious pathogens. The cleaned air is either recirculated into the room or exhausted outside the building. By filtering contaminated room air and then recirculating the cleaned air into the room, an in-room air cleaner can improve the room’s ventilation. By exhausting the filtered air to the outside the unit can create a negative-pressure room. There are many types of in-room air cleaners. They vary widely in the airflow rates through the unit, the type of air cleaning technology used, and the technical design.
Crucial to maximizing the efficiency of any in-room air cleaner is its strategic placement and set-up within a room, which should be done in consultation with ventilation engineers, infection control experts, and/or industrial hygienists. A poorly positioned air cleaner may disrupt airflow patterns within the room and through the air cleaner, thereby compromising its air cleaning efficiency.
The effectiveness of an in-room air cleaner to remove airborne pathogens from room air depends on several factors, including the airflow rate through the unit’s filter and the airflow patterns in the room. Tested under a variety of conditions, in-room air cleaners, including portable or ceiling mounted units with either a HEPA or a non-HEPA filter, portable units with UVGI lights only, or ceiling mounted units with combined HEPA filtration and UVGI lights, have been estimated to be between 30% and 90%, 99% and 12% and 80% effective, respectively. However, and although their effectiveness is variable, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged in-room air cleaners as alternative technology for increasing room ventilation when this cannot be achieved by the building’s HVAC system with preference given to fixed recirculating systems over portable ones.
Importantly, the use of an in-room air cleaner does not preclude either the need for health care workers and visitors to use personal protective equipment (N95 mask or equivalent) when entering AII rooms or health care facilities from meeting current regulatory requirements for airflow rates (ventilation rates) in buildings and airflow differentials for effective negative-pressure rooms.
The Plasmacluster ion technology, developed in 2000, is an air purification technology. Its manufacturer, Sharp Electronics Corporation, says that it can disable airborne microorganisms through the generation of both positive and negative ions. (1) The functional unit is the hydroxyl, which is a molecule comprised of one oxygen molecule and one hydrogen atom.
Plasmacluster ion air purifier uses a multilayer filter system composed of a prefilter, a carbon filter, an antibacterial filter, and a HEPA filter, combined with an ion generator to purify the air. The ion generator uses an alternating plasma discharge to split water molecules into positively and negatively charged ions. When these ions are emitted into the air, they are surrounded by water molecules and form cluster ions which are attracted to airborne particles. The cluster ion surrounds the airborne particle, and the positive and negative ions react to form hydroxyls. These hydroxyls steal the airborne particle’s hydrogen atom, which creates a hole in the particle’s outer protein membrane, thereby rendering it inactive.
Because influenza is primarily acquired by large droplets and direct and indirect contact with an infectious person, any in-room air cleaner will have little benefit in controlling and preventing its spread. Therefore, there is no role for the Plasmacluster ion air purifier or any other in-room air cleaner in the control of the spread of influenza. Accordingly, for purposes of this review, the Medical Advisory Secretariat presents no further analysis of the Plasmacluster.
Review Strategy
The objective of the systematic review was to determine the effectiveness of in-room air cleaners with built in UVGI lights and HEPA filtration compared with those using HEPA filtration only.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat searched the databases of MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, INAHATA (International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment), Biosis Previews, Bacteriology Abstracts, Web of Science, Dissertation Abstracts, and NIOSHTIC 2.
A meta-analysis was conducted if adequate data was available from 2 or more studies and where statistical and clinical heterogeneity among studies was not an issue. Otherwise, a qualitative review was completed. The GRADE system was used to summarize the quality of the body of evidence comprised of 1 or more studies.
Summary of Findings
There were no existing health technology assessments on air cleaning technology located during the literature review. The literature search yielded 59 citations of which none were retained. One study was retrieved from a reference list of a guidance document from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which evaluated an in-room air cleaner with combined UVGI lights and HEPA filtration under 2 conditions: UVGI lights on and UVGI lights off. Experiments were performed using different ventilation rates and using an aerosolized pathogen comprised of Mycobaterium parafortuitum, a surrogate for the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Effectiveness was measured as equivalent air changes per hour (eACH). This single study formed the body of evidence for our systematic review research question.
Experimental Results
The eACH rate for the HEPA-UVGI in-room air cleaner was statistically significantly greater when the UV lights were on compared with when the UV lights were off. (P < .05). However, subsequent experiments could not attribute this to the UVGI. Consequently, the results are inconclusive and an estimate of effect (benefit) is uncertain.
The study was reviewed by a scientific expert and rated moderate for quality. Further analysis determined that there was some uncertainty in the directness of the outcome measure (eACH); thus, the GRADE level for the quality of the evidence was low indicating that an estimate of effect is very uncertain.
There is uncertainty in the benefits of using in-room air cleaners with combined UVGI lights and HEPA filtration over systems that use HEPA filtration alone. However, there are no known risks to using systems with combined UVGI and HEPA technology compared with those with HEPA alone. There is an increase in the burden of cost including capital costs (cost of the device), operating costs (electricity usage), and maintenance costs (cleaning and replacement of UVGI lights) to using an in-room air cleaner with combined UVGI and HEPA technology compared with those with HEPA alone. Given the uncertainty of the estimate of benefits, an in-room air cleaner with HEPA technology only may be an equally reasonable alternative to using one with combined UVGI and HEPA technology
In-room air cleaners may be used to protect health care staff from air borne infectious pathogens such as tuberculosis, chicken pox, measles, and dessiminated herpes zoster. In addition, and although in-room air cleaners are not effective at protecting staff and preventing the spread of droplet-transmitted diseases such as influenza and SARS, they may be deployed in situations with a novel/emerging infectious agent whose epidemiology is not yet defined and where airborne transmission is suspected.
It is preferable that in-room air cleaners be used with a fixed and permanent room placement when ventilation requirements must be improved and the HVAC system cannot be used. However, for acute (temporary) situations where a novel/emerging infectious agent presents whose epidemiology is not yet defined and where airborne transmission is suspected it may be prudent to use the in room air cleaner as a portable device until mode of transmission is confirmed. To maximize effectiveness, consultation with an environmental engineer and infection control expert should be undertaken before using an in-room air cleaner and protocols for maintenance and monitoring of these devices should be in place.
If properly installed and maintained, in room air cleaners with HEPA or combined HEPA and UVGI air cleaning technology are effective in removing airborne pathogens. However, there is only weak evidence available at this time regarding the benefit of using an in-room air cleaner with combined HEPA and UVGI air cleaner technology instead of those with HEPA filter technology only.
PMCID: PMC3382390  PMID: 23074468

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