Filtration of airborne microorganisms: Modeling and prediction

W. J. Kowalski, William P. Bahnfleth, T. S. Whittam

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The filtration of airborne particulates has been studied extensively and removal efficiencies can be adequately predicted from theory or from catalog data. The filtration of airborne microorganisms, however, has not been specifically addressed by theory and has seen limited empirical study. This paper addresses the variety of factors that may cause microbial filtration efficiency to deviate from predicted values based on particulate size alone. A model is developed to incorporate those factors likely to have significant impact, namely, aspect ratios and lognormal size distributions. This model is then challenged with a database of known airborne pathogens and allergens for which these parameters have been established. Results suggest existing filtration models are accurate within reason for the prediction of filtration efficiencies of airborne bacteria and spores, provided logmean diameters are used. Implications for the use of filtration in health care facilities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASHRAE Transactions
StatePublished - Dec 1 1999
EventASHRAE Annual Meeting - Seattle, WA, USA
Duration: Jun 18 1999Jun 23 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering


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