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Environ Health Perspect. 1976 Aug;16:41-53.

Deposition and clearance of inhaled particles.


Theoretical models of respiratory tract deposition of inhaled particles are compared to experimental studies of deposition patterns in humans and animals, as determined principally by particle size, density, respiratory rate and flow parameters. Various models of inhaled particle deposition make use of convenient approximations of the respiratory tract to predict tractional deposition according to fundamental physical processes of impaction, sedimentation, and diffusion. These theoretical models for both total deposition and regional (nasopharyngeal, tracheobronchial, and pulmonary) deposition are compared with experimental studies of inhaled dusts in humans or experimental animals that have been performed in many laboratories over several decades. Reasonable correlation has been obtained between theoretical and experimental studies, but the behavior of very fine (less than 0.01 mum) particles requires further refinement. Properties of particle shape, charge, and hygroscopicity as well as the degree of respiratory tract pathology also influence deposition patterns and further experimental work is urgently needed in these areas. The influence upon deposition patterns of dynamic alterations in inspiratory flow profiles caused by a variety of breathing patterns also requires further study, and the use of such techniques with selected inhaled particle size holds promise in possible diagnostic aid in diagnosis of normal versus disease conditions. Mechanisms of conducting airway and alveolar clearance processes involving mucociliary clearance, dissolution, transport to systemic circulation, and translocation via regional lymphatic clearance are discussed. The roles of the pulmonary macrophage in airway and alveolar clearance are described, and the applicability of recent solubility models for translocation or deposited materials to liver, skeleton, or other systemic organs is discussed.

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