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J Biomech Eng. 2006 Oct;128(5):697-706.

Laminar airflow and nanoparticle or vapor deposition in a human nasal cavity model.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7910, USA.


The transport and deposition of nanoparticles, i.e., dp = 1-2 nm, or equivalent vapors, in the human nasal cavities is of interest to engineers, scientists, air-pollution regulators, and healthcare officials alike. Tiny ultrafine particles, i.e., dp < or = 5 nm, are of special interest because they are most rapidly absorbed and hence have an elevated toxic or therapeutic impact when compared to larger particles. Assuming transient laminar 3-D incompressible flow in a representative human nasal cavity, the cyclic airflow pattern as well as local and overall nanoparticle depositions were computationally simulated and analyzed. The focus was on transient effects during inhalation/exhalation as compared to the steady-state assumption typically invoked. Then, an equation for a matching steady-state inhalation flow rate was developed that generates the same deposition results as cyclic inhalation. Of special interest is the olfactory region where the narrow channel surfaces receive only about one-half of a percent of the inhaled nanoparticles because the airflow bypasses these recesses located in the superior-most portions in the geometrically complex nasal cavities.

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