Vacuuming Source of Indoor Exposure



Vacuuming can be a source of indoor exposure to biological and nonbiological aerosols, although there are few data that describe the magnitude of emissions from the vacuum cleaner itself. We therefore sought to quantify emission rates of particles and bacteria from a large group of vacuum cleaners and investigate their potential determinants, including temperature, dust bags, exhaust filters, price, and age. Emissions of particles between 0.009 and 20 μm and bacteria were measured from 21 vacuums. Ultrafine (<100 nm) particle emission rates ranged from 4.0 × 106 to 1.1 × 1011 particles min-1. Emission of 0.54 – 20 μm particles ranged from 4.0 × 104 to 1.2 × 109 particles min-1. PM2.5 emissions were between 2.4 × 10-1 and 5.4 × 103 μg min-1. Bacteria emissions ranged from 0 to 7.4 × 105 bacteria min-1 and were poorly correlated with dust bag bacteria content and particle emissions. Large variability in emission of all parameters was observed across the 21 vacuums, which was largely not attributable to the range of determinant factors we assessed. Vacuum cleaner emissions contribute to indoor exposure to nonbiological and biological aerosols when vacuuming, and this may vary markedly depending on the vacuum used.




Luke D. Knibbs†‡

Congrong He†‡

Caroline Duchaine†§

Lidia Morawska*†‡


†International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health and ‡Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

§ Département de Biochimie, de Microbiologie et de Bioinformatique, Université Laval, Québec, Canada


*Phone: (617) 3138 2616; fax: (617) 3138 9079; e-mail: [email protected]


Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46 (1), pp 534—542

DOI: 10.1021/es202946w

Publication Date (Web): November 15, 2011

Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society