Characterisation of Particle Size and Viability of SARS-CoV-2 Aerosols from a Range of Nebuliser Types Using a Novel Sampling Technique

Susan Paton*, Simon Clark, Antony Spencer, Isobel Garratt, Ikshitaa Dinesh, Katy Anne Thompson, Allan Bennett, Thomas Pottage

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Little is understood about the impact of nebulisation on the viability of SARS-CoV-2. In this study, a range of nebulisers with differing methods of aerosol generation were evaluated to determine SARS-CoV-2 viability following aerosolization. The aerosol particle size distribution was assessed using an aerosol particle sizer (APS) and SARS-CoV-2 viability was determined after collection into liquid media using All-Glass Impingers (AGI). Viable particles of SARS-CoV-2 were further characterised using the Collison 6-jet nebuliser in conjunction with novel sample techniques in an Andersen size-fractioning sampler to predict lung deposition profiles. Results demonstrate that all the tested nebulisers can generate stable, polydisperse aerosols (Geometric standard deviation (GSD) circa 1.8) in the respirable range (1.2 to 2.2 µm). Viable fractions (VF, units PFU/particle, the virus viability as a function of total particles produced) were circa 5 × 10−3. VF and spray factors were not significantly affected by relative humidity, within this system where aerosols were in the spray tube an extremely short time. The novel Andersen sample collection methods successfully captured viable virus particles across all sizes; with most particle sizes below 3.3 µm. Particle sizes, in MMAD (Mass Median Aerodynamic Diameters), were calculated from linear regression of log10-log10 transformed cumulative PFU data, and calculated MMADs accorded well with APS measurements and did not differ across collection method types. These data will be vital in informing animal aerosol challenge models, and infection prevention and control policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number639
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • SARS-CoV-2
  • aerosols
  • particles
  • respirable
  • sampling
  • sizing
  • viable


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