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Effect of Central Fans and In-Duct Filters on Deposition Rates of Ultrafine and Fine Particles in an Occupied Townhouse.

pdf icon Effect of Central Fans and In-Duct Filters on Deposition Rates of Ultrafine and Fine Particles in an Occupied Townhouse. (423 K)
Wallace, L. A.; Emmerich, S. J.; Howard-Reed, C.

Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 38, No. 3, 405-413, January 2004.


fan; filters; ducts; housing; ultrafine particles; fine particles; deposition; filtration; air cleaner; field study


Airborne particles are implicated in morbidity and mortality of certain high-risk subpopulations. Exposure to particles occurs mostly indoors, where a main removal mechanism is deposition to surfaces. Deposition can be affected by the use of forced-air circulation through ducts or by air filters. In this study, we calculate the deposition rates of particles in an occupied house due to forced-air circulation and the use of in-duct filters such as electrostatic precipitators (ESP) and fibrous mechanical filters (MECH). Deposition rates are calculated for 128 size categories ranging from 0.01 to 2.5 m. More than 110 separate "events" (mostly cooking, candle burning, and pouring kitty litter) were used to calculate deposition rates for four conditions: fan off, fan on, MECH installed, ESP installed. For all cases, deposition rates varied in a "U"-shaped distribution with the minimum occurring near 0.1 m, as predicted by theory. The use of the central fan with no filter or with a standard furnace filter increased deposition rates by amounts on the order of 0.10.5 h-1. The MECH increased deposition rates by up to 2 h-1 for ultrafine and fine particles but was ineffective for particles in the 0.10.5 m range. The ESP increased deposition rates by 23 h-1 and was effective for all sizes. However, the ESP lost efficiency after several weeks and needed regular cleaning to maintain its effectiveness. A reduction of particle levels by 50% or more could be achieved by use of the ESP when operating properly. Since the use of fans and filters reduces particle concentrations from both indoor and outdoor sources, it is more effective than the alternative approach of reducing ventilation by closing windows or insulating homes more tightly. For persons at risk, use of an air filter may be an effective method of reducing exposure to particles.