Pulmonary and Neurological Health Impacts from Airborne Particulate Matter (IV)

Léo Macé, Chrystelle Ibanez This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Thomas Gelain, Cécile Bodiot, Laure Juhel, François Gensdarmes

Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN), Fontenay-aux-Roses cedex, 92262, France

Received: September 21, 2020
Revised: January 30, 2021
Accepted: March 12, 2021

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.200504  

Cite this article:

Macé, L., Ibanez, C., Gelain, T., Bodiot, C., Juhel, L., Gensdarmes, F. (2021). Design of an Inhalation Chamber and Metrology Assessment to Study Tungsten Aerosol Neurotoxic Effects. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 21, 200504. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.200504


  • Strategy to control generation of tungsten aerosols with low mass concentrations.
  • Measurement of tungsten particles aerodynamic and electrical mobility diameters.
  • Measurement shows good agreement between instruments for extreme particle density.
  • Aerosol characteristics discussed for reliable calculation of deposition in airways.
  • Aerosol dispersion in the inhalation chamber was studied by CFD simulations.


To evaluate the neurotoxic effects from exposure to airborne tungsten, we developed a method of generating mass concentrations of this element between 5 and 10 mg m−3, the time-weighted average occupational exposure limits. We then conducted measurements of the aerosol—a challenge due to the high particle density—that enabled us to calculate the deposition in the upper airway and lungs.

First, we fed a mixture of coarse tungsten bead powder and aerosolizable tungsten powder, which had been combined in specific mass proportions, to an RBG 1000 (Palas®) equipped with a cyclone at the outlet that filtered out the coarse particles. Then, we simultaneously measured the resultant aerosol, which was generated in an inhalation chamber, using three pairs of instruments—a Dekati® Low Pressure Impactor (DLPI; 30 L min−1) and a gravimetric filter holder, a DLPI and a TSI® Aerodynamic Particle Sizer (APS; Model 3321), a TSI Engine Exhaust Particle Sizer (EEPS; Model 3090) and an APS—and symmetrical sampling lines.

The mass concentrations obtained with the DLPI and the filter holder were extremely consistent with each other, and the mass median aerodynamic diameters based on the DLPI and the APS data (with the Stokes correction applied to the latter) were also fairly close (1.77 and 1.89 µm, respectively). Additionally, the count median diameter determined from the electrical mobility measured by the EEPS equaled 0.17 µm, which falls beyond both the intended range of the instrument and the range of previously studied aerodynamic sizes.

Overall, the results from the DLPI, the APS, and the EEPS showed very good agreement. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of the airflows and aerosol dispersion in the inhalation chamber verified that the test aerosol was homogeneous and representative.

Keywords: Tungsten, Inhalation, Particle density, Neurotoxicology


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