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Pharmaceutics. 2014 Jan 29;6(1):26-35. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics6010026.

Electrostatic charge effects on pharmaceutical aerosol deposition in human nasal-laryngeal airways.

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Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, Central Michigan University, Mt Pleasant, MI 48858, USA.
Department of Engineering, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, USA.
Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23284, USA.


Electrostatic charging occurs in most aerosol generation processes and can significantly influence subsequent particle deposition rates and patterns in the respiratory tract through the image and space forces. The behavior of inhaled aerosols with charge is expected to be most affected in the upper airways, where particles come in close proximity to the narrow turbinate surface, and before charge dissipation occurs as a result of high humidity. The objective of this study was to quantitatively evaluate the deposition of charged aerosols in an MRI-based nasal-laryngeal airway model. Particle sizes of 5 nm-30 µm and charge levels ranging from neutralized to ten times the saturation limit were considered. A well-validated low Reynolds number (LRN) k-ω turbulence model and a discrete Lagrangian tracking approach that accounted for electrostatic image force were employed to simulate the nasal airflow and aerosol dynamics. For ultrafine aerosols, electrostatic charge was observed to exert a discernible but insignificant effect. In contrast, remarkably enhanced depositions were observed for micrometer particles with charge, which could be one order of magnitude larger than no-charge depositions. The deposition hot spots shifted towards the anterior part of the upper airway as the charge level increased. Results of this study have important implications for evaluating nasal drug delivery devices and for assessing doses received from pollutants, which often carry a certain level of electric charges.

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