Inhalation of expiratory droplets in aircraft cabins

J. K. Gupta, C. H. Lin, Q. Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Airliner cabins have high occupant density and long exposure time, so the risk of airborne infection transmission could be high if one or more passengers are infected with an airborne infectious disease. The droplets exhaled by an infected passenger may contain infectious agents. This study developed a method to predict the amount of expiratory droplets inhaled by the passengers in an airliner cabin for any flight duration. The spatial and temporal distribution of expiratory droplets for the first 3min after the exhalation from the index passenger was obtained using the computational fluid dynamics simulations. The perfectly mixed model was used for beyond 3min after the exhalation. For multiple exhalations, the droplet concentration in a zone can be obtained by adding the droplet concentrations for all the exhalations until the current time with a time shift via the superposition method. These methods were used to determine the amount of droplets inhaled by the susceptible passengers over a 4-h flight under three common scenarios. The method, if coupled with information on the viability and the amount of infectious agent in the droplet, can aid in evaluating the infection risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • Breathing
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Coughing
  • Super-position
  • Talking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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