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Int J Numer Method Biomed Eng. 2013 Jan;29(1):17-39. doi: 10.1002/cnm.2490. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

Dynamic growth and deposition of hygroscopic aerosols in the nasal airway of a 5-year-old child.

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Department of Systems Engineering, University of Arkansas, Little Rock, AR, U.S.A.


Hygroscopic growth within the human respiratory tract can be significant, which may notably alter the behavior and fate of the inhaled aerosols. The objective of this study is to evaluate the hygroscopic effects upon the transport and deposition of nasally inhaled fine-regime aerosols in children. A physiologically realistic nasal-laryngeal airway model was developed based on magnetic resonance imaging of a 5-year-old boy. Temperature and relative humidity field were simulated using the low Reynolds number k - ε turbulence model and chemical specie transport model under a spectrum of four thermo-humidity conditions. Particle growth and transport were simulated using a well validated Lagrangian tracking model coupled with a user-defined hygroscopic growth module. The subsequent aerosol depositions for the four inhalation scenarios were evaluated on a multiscale basis such as total, subregional, and cellular-level depositions. Results of this study show that a supersaturated humid environment is possible in the nasal turbinate region and can lead to significant condensation growth (d / d(0)  > 10) of nasally inhaled aerosols. Depositions in the nasal airway can also be greatly enhanced by condensation growth with appropriate inhalation temperature and humidity. For subsaturated and mild inhalation conditions, the hygroscopic effects were found to be nonsignificant for total depositions, while exerting a large impact upon localized depositions.

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