Remove Respiratory Aerosols with HEPA Filters and Make the Air Breathable

Respiratory Aerosols
Credit: The New York Times

Mayo Clinic has been working on respiratory aerosols. These tiny aerosol particles are not visible under the naked eye, capable of transforming life-threatening diseases. These aerosol particles exist in a diversity of sizes. These respiratory particles are responsible for the transmission of tuberculosis, bacterial meningitis, and Covid19.

Getting Rid of Respiratory Aerosols

Researchers at Mayo Clinic discovered that with increasing exertion, the concentration of respiratory aerosols increases in the surroundings. Researchers of Mayo Clinic performing exercise stress tests for cardiac patients made this discovery. Moreover, they also came up with the idea that respiratory aerosols are filtered effectively with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) gadget. These devices help in cleaning the air between the patients, thus maintaining hygiene.

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Dr. Allison is the senior author of both of these studies. Dr Allison and her team worked tediously to organize a special aerosol laboratory in a plastic tent. The airflow was under control in the plastic tent. Within the plastic tent, the concentration of aerosol particles is determined in the surrounding the person riding an exercise bike. Two types of laser beam particle counters help in determining the concentration of aerosols. The Oxygen consumption, ventilation rate, and heart rate are under the analysis of the eight volunteers.

Exertion Elevates Respiratory Aerosols

For the experiment, the volunteers were allowed for resting breathing for the initial five minutes. After which, four bouts of the three-minute exercise were done by the volunteers with monitoring and coaching. The strength of the exercise relates to the age-predicted heart rate of the subject. Then the volunteers have a cool-down for three minutes. This study got publicized on the online platform of CHEST.

The findings show an exponential increase in the aerosol concentration, which remains consistent throughout the test. Precisely, a significant rise in the aerosol occurred when exercising at or above 50% of resting heart rate.

Mayo Clinic studies on respiratory aerosols make evident why it was crucial to shut down the gyms and other exercise testing laboratories. The research of Mayo Clinic is the first to enlist exercise testing as an aerosol-production process. There was a lack of such research in the past. While testing, exercise gives rise to millions of respiratory aerosols. These respiratory aerosols are of various sizes, large enough to accommodate the transmission of the virus. Dr Allison says that the greater the intensity of exercise, the more the production of aerosols takes place.

HEPA filters Add To Your Safety

Dr. Allison falls into a follow-up study. This study focuses on the mitigation procedure of these respiratory aerosols by immediate filtration soon after the aerosols are released from the mouth of the subject.

The researchers make use of a similar setup comprising of an exercise tent keeping the airflow under control, stationary bike, and particle counter. In addition to this setup is that of a portable HEPA filter and a flume hood.

For the follow-up study, six healthy subjects undergo a 20-minutes exercise test, initially without mitigation and then with HEPA filters.

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In another experiment, researchers determined aerosol clearance time in exercise testing laboratories, utilizing artificially produced aerosols for this purpose. At first, researchers performed the test under only existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, lately with portable HEPA filter running.

According to Dr. Allison, determining the clearance time for aerosol aid in knowing after how much time a new patient must be brought to the exercise testing laboratory when done testing on the previous patient.

With the assistance of portable HEPA filters, this period is reduced by 50%, thus avoiding overcrowding of cardiac patients waiting for exercise stress testing.

Adeena Tariq Lari
The author is a graduate of dental surgery from the Dow University Health Sciences, Karachi. She has an academic background in content writing as well as English literature, giving her an edge in the field. Adeena is always curious about physical and mental health. She is always passionate about research and delivering high-quality reliable content to users.