Factors influencing the airborne capture of respirable charged particles by surfactants in water sprays

Mei W. Tessum, Peter C. Raynor, Lorraine Keating-Klika

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This research measured the effects of particle diameter, surfactant-containing spray solution, and particle charge on the capture of respirable particles by surfactant-containing water spray droplets. Polystyrene latex particles with diameters of 0.6, 1.0, or 2.1 m were generated in a wind tunnel. Particles were given either a neutralized, unneutralized, net positive, or net negative charge, and then were captured as they passed through sprays containing anionic, cationic, or nonionic surfactant. The remaining particles were sampled, charge-separated, and counted with the sprays on and off at varying voltage levels to assess collection efficiency. Overall efficiencies were measured for particles with all charge levels, as well as efficiencies for particles with specific charge levels. The overall collection efficiency significantly increased with increasing particle diameter. Collection efficiencies of 21.5% ± 9.0%, 58.8% ± 12.5%, and 86.6% ± 43.5% (Mean ± SD) were observed for particles 0.6, 1.0, and 2.1 m in diameter, respectively. The combination of surfactant classification and concentration also significantly affected both overall spray collection efficiency and collection efficiency for particles with specific charge levels. Ionic surfactant-containing sprays had the best performance for charged particles with the opposite sign of charge but the worst performance for charged particles with the same sign of charge, while nonionic surfactant-containing spray efficiently removed particles carrying relatively few charges. Particle charge level impacted the spray collection efficiency. Highly charged particles were removed more efficiently than weakly charged particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-582
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental hygiene
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
T he research in this publication was supported by Grant Number 1R01OH009768 from CDC-NIOSH. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIOSH or CDC. The authors would like to acknowledge Christopher Tessum and Mark Klika for their assistance with apparatus setup and maintenance.


  • efficiency
  • electrical charges
  • respirable dust
  • spray
  • surfactant


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