Human exposure to particles at the air-water interface: Influence of water quality on indoor air quality from use of ultrasonic humidifiers
Dal Porto, Rachel
Gallagher, Daniel L.
Dietrich, Andrea M.
MetadataShow full item record
Ultrasonic humidifiers provide indoor relief to symptoms caused by dry air and produce aerosols containing both water and minerals that are present in the water that fills the humidifier. This study investigated the spatial distributions, concentrations, and metal and mineral composition of aerosols emitted when an ultrasonic humidifier was filled with deionized water (DI), low mineral tap water (LL), high total dissolved solids (TDS)/high hardness water (HH), and high TDS/low hardness water (HL). Aerosol/particle sizes and counts were obtained at six horizontal distances in both the plume and near floor for each water quality. Results are that water quality significantly affects particle size distributions which become uniform after 0.9 m from the humidifier outlet, and are independent of vertical distance from the humidifier. The mean count median diameters were 64 nm for DI, 129 nm for LL, 234 nm for HH, and 260 nm for HL; the particle counts and total mineral solids concentrations were 2,194 #/cm³ (16 μg/m³) for DI, 21,070 #/cm³ (113 μg/m³) for LL, 38,353 #/cm³ (438 μg/m³) for HH, and 43,880 #/cm³ (521 μg/m³) for HL. The μg/m³ values for LL, HH, and HL exceeded PM2.5 ambient air standards. Model predictions are that the deposition mass in the human respiratory system from inhaling particles emitted from HH and HL water exceed 135 μg for a 1 to 3-month old child and 600 μg for an adult over an 8-hr period. Mineral water quality significantly affects the distribution and concentration of emitted and inhaled indoor air particles. Consumers may unknowingly be degrading their indoor air quality when using tap water of acceptable drinking water quality as humidifier fill water.