A review of respiratory anatomical development, air flow characterization and particle deposition

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Journal Article
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2020, 17 (2)
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© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. The understanding of complex inhalation and transport processes of pollutant particles through the human respiratory system is important for investigations into dosimetry and respiratory health effects in various settings, such as environmental or occupational health. The studies over the last few decades for micro-and nanoparticle transport and deposition have advanced the understanding of drug-aerosol impacts in the mouth-throat and the upper airways. However, most of the Lagrangian and Eulerian studies have utilized the non-realistic symmetric anatomical model for airflow and particle deposition predictions. Recent improvements to visualization techniques using high-resolution computed tomography (CT) data and the resultant development of three dimensional (3-D) anatomical models support the realistic representation of lung geometry. Yet, the selection of different modelling approaches to analyze the transitional flow behavior and the use of different inlet and outlet conditions provide a dissimilar prediction of particle deposition in the human lung. Moreover, incorporation of relevant physical and appropriate boundary conditions are important factors to consider for the more accurate prediction of transitional flow and particle transport in human lung. This review critically appraises currently available literature on airflow and particle transport mechanism in the lungs, as well as numerical simulations with the aim to explore processes involved. Numerical studies found that both the Euler–Lagrange (E-L) and Euler–Euler methods do not influence nanoparticle (particle diameter ≤50 nm) deposition patterns at a flow rate ≤25 L/min. Furthermore, numerical studies demonstrated that turbulence dispersion does not significantly affect nanoparticle deposition patterns. This critical review aims to develop the field and increase the state-of-the-art in human lung modelling.
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