Distribution of exhaled contaminants and personal exposure in a room using three different air distribution strategies


I. Olmedo
Department of Chemical Physics and Applied Thermodynamics Leonardo Da Vinci Building-Campus of Rabanales km 396a, Madrid-Cadiz Road 14071 Córdoba, Córdoba University Spain
Tel.: +34 957 212203
Fax: +34 957 218417
e-mail: ines.olmedo@uco.es


Abstract  The level of exposure to human exhaled contaminants in a room depends not only on the air distribution system but also on people’s different positions, the distance between them, people’s activity level and height, direction of exhalation, and the surrounding temperature and temperature gradient. Human exhalation is studied in detail for different distribution systems: displacement and mixing ventilation as well as a system without mechanical ventilation. Two thermal manikins breathing through the mouth are used to simulate the exposure to human exhaled contaminants. The position and distance between the manikins are changed to study the influence on the level of exposure. The results show that the air exhaled by a manikin flows a longer distance with a higher concentration in case of displacement ventilation than in the other two cases, indicating a significant exposure to the contaminants for one person positioned in front of another. However, in all three cases, the exhalation flow of the source penetrates the thermal plume, causing an increase in the concentration of contaminants in front of the target person. The results are significantly dependent on the distance and position between the two manikins in all three cases.

Practical Implications

Indoor environments are susceptible to contaminant exposure, as contaminants can easily spread in the air. Human breathing is one of the most important biological contaminant sources, as the exhaled air can contain different pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. This paper addresses the human exhalation flow and its behavior in connection with different ventilation strategies, as well as the interaction between two people in a room. This is a key factor for studying the airborne infection risk when the room is occupied by several persons. The paper only takes into account the airborne part of the infection risk.