Evaluation of an electrostatic particle ionization technology for decreasing airborne pathogens in pigs

Carmen Alonso, Peter C. Raynor, Peter R. Davies, Robert B. Morrison, Montserrat Torremorell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Influenza A virus (IAV), porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) and Staphylococcus aureus are important swine pathogens capable of being transmitted via aerosols. The electrostatic particle ionization system (EPI) consists of a conductive line that emits negative ions that charge particles electrically resulting in the settling of airborne particles onto surfaces and potentially decreasing the risk of pathogen dissemination. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of the EPI system on the quantity and viability of IAV, PRRSV, PEDV and S. aureus in experimentally generated aerosols and in aerosols generated by infected animals. Efficiency at removing airborne particles was evaluated as a function of particle size (ranging from 0.4 to 10 µm), distance from the source of ions (1, 2 and 3 m) and relative air humidity (RH 30 vs. 70 %). Aerosols were sampled with the EPI system “off” and “on.” Removal efficiency was significantly greater for all pathogens when the EPI line was the closest to the source of aerosols. There was a greater reduction for larger particles ranging between 3.3 and 9 µm, which varied by pathogen. Overall airborne pathogen reduction ranged between 0.5 and 1.9 logs. Viable pathogens were detected with the EPI system “on,” but there was a trend to reducing the quantity of viable PRRSV and IAV. There was not a significant effect on the pathogens removal efficiency based on the RH conditions tested. In summary, distance to the source of ions, type of pathogen and particle size influenced the removal efficiency of the EPI system. The reduction in infectious agents in the air by the EPI technology could potentially decrease the microbial exposure for pigs and people in confinement livestock facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-419
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was partially funded by the National Pork Board, the University of Minnesota Signature Program Grant, and the Swine Disease Eradication Center at the University of Minnesota. The authors would like to thank John and Mathew Baumgartner for kindly providing the EPI system and Dr. Mitchell Bailey for providing the ion analyzer. The authors also would like to thank Dr. Tim Snider and My Yang for their technical assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, The Author(s).


  • Aerosols
  • Electrostatic particle ionization
  • Influenza virus
  • Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus
  • Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus
  • Staphylococcus aureus


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