Physics of Microbial Bioaerosols

  • Bruce Lighthart


Bioaerosol droplets may be generated from a suspension of microorganisms sprayed into the atmosphere as a polydipersed aerosol, that is, a dispersion made up of many different sized droplets. There, each droplet follows its unique trajectory all the while evaporating to a packed residue of particles. The shape and size of the residue particle depends on the quality and quantity of microorganisms in the droplet. The rate of evaporation (or condensation) of solvent in the droplet, usually water, depends on chemical parameters that control droplet evaporation (condensation) such as the droplet solvent and solute, and ambient relative humidity (RH) and temperature. Physical forces which are acting on a droplet/particle in motion are atmospheric drag which usually tends to slow a particle from the bulk air velocity and changes with droplet size and shape, and gravity, which usually accelerates a particle to its terminal settling velocity. On a larger scale, droplets are dispersed by the atmospheric motion and carried downwind where they are impacted or settle onto surfaces. Electrostatic forces may be important in attracting particles to surfaces, including the surface of other particles or droplets.


Reynolds Number Droplet Size Terminal Velocity Spray Nozzle Droplet Evaporation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adamson, A. W. 1982. Physical chemistry of surfaces. 4th ed. John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Atkins, G. L. 1969. Multicompartment models for biological systems. Methuen & C. Ltd., London. 152 pp.Google Scholar
  3. Butterworth, J. and H. A. McCartney. 1991. The dispersal of bacteria from plant surfaces by water splash. J. Appl. Bacteriol. 71: 484–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chemical Rubber Publishing Co. 1953. Handbook of chemistry and physics. Chemical Rubber Publishing Co., Cleveland, OH.Google Scholar
  5. Dallavalle, J. M. 1948. Micrmeritics. The technology of fine particles. Pitman Publishing Corp., New York.Google Scholar
  6. Davies, C. N. 1978. Evaporation of airborne droplets, pp. 135–164. In D. T. Shaw (ed.), Fundamentals of aerosol science. John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  7. Davies, C. N. 1979. Particle fluid interaction. J. Aerosol Sci. 10: 477–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hesketh, H. E. 1986. Fine particles in gaseous media. Lewis Publishers, Inc. Chelsea, MI.Google Scholar
  9. Hinds, W. C. 1982. Aerosol technology. John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Lighthart, B., J. C. Spondlove, & T. G. Akers. 1979. Bacteria & viruses, pp. 11–2. In Aerobiology—The ecological systems approach. R. L. Edmonds (Ed.), Dondon, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc., Stroudsburg, PA.Google Scholar
  11. Lighthart, B., B. T. Shaffer, B. Marthi, and L. Ganio. 1991. Trajectory of aerosol droplets from a sprayed bacterial suspension. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57 (4): 1006–1012.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Reist, P. C. 1984. Introduction to aerosol science. Macmillan Publishing Co., New York.Google Scholar
  13. Shaffer, B. R., and B. Lighthart. 1991. Proc. Amer. Soc. Microbiol. Los Angeles, CA.Google Scholar
  14. Shaw, D. T. (ed.). 1978. Fundamentals of aerosol science. John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Sorber, C. A., H. T. Bausum, S. A. Shaub, and M. J. Small. 1976. A study of bacterial aerosols at a wastewater irrigation site. J. Water Pollut. Control Fed. 48: 2367–2379.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall, Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Lighthart

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations