Recirculating air filtration significantly reduces exposure to airborne nanoparticles

David Y.H. Pui, Chaolong Qi, Nick Stanley, Günter Oberdörster, Andrew Maynard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Background: Airborne nanoparticles from vehicle emissions have been associated with adverse effects in people with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, and toxicologic studies have shown that nanoparticles can be more hazardous than their larger-scale counterparts. Recirculating air filtration in automobiles and houses may provide a low-cost solution to reducing exposures in many cases thus reducing possible health risks. Objectives: We investigated the effectiveness of recirculating air filtration on reducing exposure to incidental and intentionally produced airborne nanoparticles under two scenarios: while driving in traffic, and while generating nanomaterials using gas-phase synthesis. Methods: We tested the recirculating air filtration in two commercial vehicles when driving in traffic, as well as in a nonventilation room with a nanoparticle generator, simulating a nanomaterial production facility. We also measured the time-resolved aerosol size distribution during the in-car recirculation to investigate how recirculating air filtration affects particles of different sizes. We developed a recirculation model to describe the aerosol concetration change during recirculation. Results: The use of inexpensive, low-efficiency filters in recirculation systems is shown to reduce nanoparticle concentrations to below levels found in a typical office within 3 min while driving through heavy traffic, and within 20 min in a simulated nanomaterial production facility. Conclusions: Development and application of this technology could lead to significant reductions in airborne nanoparticle exposure, reducing possible risks to health and providing solutions for generating nanomaterials safely.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)863-866
Number of pages4
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Automobile
  • Filtration
  • Nanoparticle exposure
  • Prevention
  • Workplace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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