Research Article

AAPS PharmSciTech

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 375-390

First online:

Good Cascade Impactor Practice (GCIP) and Considerations for “In-Use” Specifications

  • S. C. NicholsAffiliated withOINDP Consultancy
  • , J. P. MitchellAffiliated withTrudell Medical International Email author 
  • , C. M. SheltonAffiliated withPPD Inc.
  • , D. L. RobertsAffiliated withMSP Corporation

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The multi-stage cascade impactor (CI) is widely used to determine aerodynamic particle size distributions (APSDs) of orally inhaled products. Its size-fractionating capability depends primarily on the size of nozzles of each stage. Good Cascade Impactor Practice (GCIP) requires that these critical dimensions are linked to the accuracy of the APSD measurement based on the aerodynamic diameter size scale. Effective diameter (D eff) is the critical dimension describing any nozzle array, as it is directly related to stage cut-point size (d 50). d 50 can in turn be determined by calibration using particles of known aerodynamic diameter, providing traceability to the international length standard. Movements in D eff within manufacturer tolerances for compendial CIs result in the worst case in shifts in d 50 of <±10%. Stage mensuration therefore provides satisfactory control of measurement accuracy. The accurate relationship of D eff to d 50 requires the CI system to be leak-free, which can be checked by sealing the apparatus at the entry to the induction port and isolating it from the vacuum source and measuring the rate of pressure rise before each use. Mensuration takes place on an infrequent basis compared with the typical interval between individual APSD determinations. Measurement of stage flow resistance (pressure drop; ΔP stage) could enable the user to know that the CI stages are fit for use before every APSD measurement, by yielding an accurate measure of D eff. However, more data are needed to assess the effects of wear and blockage before this approach can be advocated as part of GCIP.


cascade impactor flow resistance inhaler testing mensuration pressure drop