Effect of electronic cigarette (EC) aerosols on particle size distribution in indoor air and in a radon chamber

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Abstract

Particle size distribution is an important factor governing whether aerosols can be deposited in various respiratory tract regions in humans. Recently, electronic cigarette (EC), as the alternative of tobacco cigarette, has become increasingly popular all over the world. However, emissions from ECs may contribute to both indoor and outdoor air pollution; moreover, comments about their safety remain controversial, and the number of users is increasing rapidly. In this investigation, aerosols were generated from ECs and studied in the indoor air and in a chamber under controlled conditions of radon concentration. The generated aerosols were characterized in terms of particle number concentrations, size, and activity distributions by using aerosol diffusion spectrometer (ADS), diffusion battery, and cascade impactor. The range of ADS assessment was from 10−3 μm to 10 μm. The number concentration of the injected aerosol particles was between 40 000 and 100 000 particles/cm3. The distribution of these particles was the most within the ultrafine particle size range (0–0.2 μm), and the other particle were in the size range from 0.3 μm to 1 μm. The surface area distribution and the mass size distribution are presented and compared with bimodal distribution. In the radon chamber, all distributions were clearly bimodal, as the free radon decay product was approximately 1 nm in diameter, with a fraction of ~0.7 for a clean chamber (without any additional source of aerosols). The attached fraction with the aerosol particles from the ECs had a size not exceeding 1.0 μm.

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