Vertical Concentration Gradient of Influenza Viruses Resuspended from Floor Dust

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Virginia Tech

Resuspended floor dust constitutes up to sixty percent of the total particulate matter in indoor air. This fraction may also include virus-laden particles that settle on the floor after being emitted by an infected individual. This research focuses on predicting the concentration of influenza A viruses in resuspended dust, generated by people walking in a room, at various heights above the floor. Using a sonic anemometer, we measured the velocity field from floor to ceiling at 10-cm intervals to estimate the magnitude of turbulence generated by walking. The resulting eddy diffusion coefficients varied between 0.06 m2 s-1 and 0.20 m2 s-1 and were maximal at ~0.75-1 m above the floor, approximately the height of the swinging hand. We used these coefficients in an atmospheric transport model to predict virus concentrations as a function of the carrier particle size and height in the room. Results indicate that the concentration of resuspended viruses at 1 m above the floor is about seven times the concentration at 2 m. Thus, shorter people may be exposed to higher concentrations of pathogens in resuspended dust indoors. This study illuminates the possibility that particle resuspension could be a mode of disease transmission. It also emphasizes the importance of considering resuspension of particulate matter when designing ventilation systems and flooring in hospitals and residences.

walking, eddy diffusivity, influenza A virus, indoor