Effects of RH on Glass Microfiber Filtration Efficiency for Airborne Bacteria and Bacteriophage Over Time

Min Wang, Gail Brion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study investigated the removal efficiency of viable signals of aerosolized bacteria and viruses, stabilized with respect to relative humidity, by simple glass microfiber filters. When examined over an extended time period, relative humidity affected both the size distribution of the stabilized aerosols and the removal efficiency of aerosolized microorganisms by simple glass microfiber filters. The size distribution of the generated humidity stabilized aerosol particles differed, with 50% relative humidity having a greater number of small diameter particles (<.02 microns) than aerosols generated at 23% relative humidity, and 23% relative humidity having more particles in the range between.02 and.3 microns than 50%. The removal efficiency of aerosols containing viable bacteria (E. coli) and bacterial viruses (MS2) initially showed greater than 5 logs of removal (99.999%) at both 23% and 50% RHs for both aerosolized microorganisms. Increased RH was related to improved removal of viable aerosolized bacteria and viruses at all timepoints measured over a 60-minute test period. RH had more impact upon removal efficiencies for MS2 bacteriophages than E. coli bacteria, with removal efficiencies for MS2 at 50% RH declining after 30 minutes to levels seen at 23% RH. Some interesting findings of this study were that the two microorganisms that were mixed into a single cocktail at similar concentrations to generate the aerosol apparently did not associate, to a large extent, in the same aerosol particles, as inferred by significant differences in their removal behavior at higher RH of 50%. This study shows that the relative humidity of an aerosol-containing stream should be considered as an important experimental control variable, and that the removal of aerosolized viruses cannot be predicted from bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-785
Number of pages11
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 5 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Received 3 September 2006; accepted 16 May 2007. This research was supported by Center of Applied Energy Research (CAER) and Environmental Research and Training Laboratory (ERTL) of University of Kentucky. Address correspondence to Min Wang, Civil Engineering, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, USA. E-mail: min.wang@ ky.gov

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Pollution


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