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Filtering Efficiency of N95- and R95-Type Facepiece Respirators, Dust-Mist Facepiece Respirators, and Surgical Masks Operating in Unipolarly Ionized Indoor Air Environments

Category: Articles

Volume: 5 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 25-38
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2005.06.0003
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Byung Uk Lee, Mikhail Yermakov, Sergey A. Grinshpun

  • Center for Health-Related Aerosol Studies Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati, 3223 Eden Avenue, PO Box 670056, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0056, U.S.A


The emission of unipolar air ions in the vicinity of a filtering facepiece respirator has been recently shown to considerably enhance its respiratory protection efficiency. The effect is driven by the electric repelling forces that develop between the unipolarly charged mask and the aerosol particles, thus creating a shield for the incoming particles and consequently decreasing the penetration efficiency through the filter. The manikin-based preliminary evaluation of this concept has been performed with a very limited number of variables. In this study, four types of half-mask facepiece filtering devices (N95, R95, and dust-mist respirators, as well as surgical masks), operating at two different breathing flow rates, were tested with unipolar air ion emitters exhibiting different emission rates and polarities. The particle penetration efficiency through the facepiece filter was determined in a room-size indoor test chamber by a real-time particle size selective aerosol monitoring performed inside and outside of the mask, which was face-sealed onto a manikin. Three commercially available ionic air purifiers were utilized as air ion emitters. For the targeted particle size range of ~0.04 – 1.3 μm, a 12- minute air ionization in the vicinity of a manikin enhanced the respiratory mask performance by a factor ranging from 1.61 to 3,250, depending on the respirator type, breathing flow rate, and the ion emission rate. The effect was achieved primarily within the first 3 minutes.


Respirator Mask ion emission Fine and ultrafine aerosol

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