Typical household vacuum cleaners: The collection efficiency and emissions characteristics for fine particles


Journal Article

The issue of fine particle (PM2.5) exposures and their potential health effects is a focus of scientific research because of the recently promulgated National Ambient Air Quality Standard for PM2.5. Before final implementation, the health and exposure basis for the standard will be reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency within the next five years. As part of this process, it is necessary to understand total particle exposure issues and to determine the relative importance of the origin of PM2.5 exposure in various micro-environments. The results presented in this study examine emissions of fine particles from a previously uncharacterized indoor source: the residential vacuum cleaner. Eleven standard vacuum cleaners were tested for the emission rate of fine particles by their individual motors and for their efficiency in collecting laboratory-generated fine particles. An aerosol generator was used to introduce fine potassium chloride (KC1) particles into the vacuum cleaner inlet for the collection efficiency tests. Measurements of the motor emissions, which include carbon, and the KCl aerosol were made using a continuous HIAC/Royco 5130A light-scattering particle detector. All tests were conducted in a metal chamber specifically designed to completely contain the vacuum cleaner and operate it in a stationary position. For the tested vacuum cleaners, fine particle motor emissions ranged from 9.6 × 104 to 3.34 × 108 particles/min, which were estimated to be 0.028 to 176 μg/min for mass emissions, respectively. The vast majority of particles released were in the range of 0.3-0.5 μm in diameter. The lowest particle emission rate was obtained for a vacuum cleaner that had a high efficiency (HEPA) filter placed after the vacuum cleaner bag and the motor within a sealed exhaust system. This vacuum cleaner removed the KC1particles that escaped the vacuum cleaner bag and the particles emitted by the motor. Results obtained for the KC1 collection efficiency tests show >99% of the fine particles were captured by the two vacuum cleaners that used a HEPA filter. A series of tests conducted on two vacuum cleaners found that the motors also emitted ultra-fine particles above 0.01 mm in diameter at rates of greater than 108 ultra-fine particles/CF of air. The model that had the best collection efficiency for fine particles also reduced the ultra-fine particle emissions by a factor of 1 × 103. © 1999 Air and Waste Management Association.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lioy, PJ; Wainman, T; Zhang, J; Goldsmith, S

Published Date

  • January 1, 1999

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 49 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 200 - 206

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1047-3289

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/10473289.1999.10463789

Citation Source

  • Scopus