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Portrait of Joakim Pagels

Joakim Pagels

Senior Lecturer

Portrait of Joakim Pagels

Size-Resolved Respiratory Tract Deposition of Fine and Ultrafine Hydrophobic and Hygroscopic Aerosol Particles during Rest and Exercise


  • Jakob Löndahl
  • Andreas Massling
  • Joakim Pagels
  • Erik Swietlicki
  • Elvira Vaclavik
  • Steffen Loft

Summary, in English

Airborne ultrafine particles (diameter <100 nm) are ubiquitous in the environment and have been associated with adverse health effects. The respiratory-tract deposition of these particles is fundamentally influenced by their hygroscopicity: their ability to grow by condensation of water in the humid respiratory system. Ambient particles are typically hygroscopic, to varying degrees. This article investigates the influence of hygroscopicity, exercise level, gender, and intersubject variability on size-dependent deposition of fine and ultrafine particles during spontaneous breathing. Using a novel and well-characterized setup, respiratory-tract deposition in the range 12-320 nm has been measured for 29 healthy adults (20 men, 9 women). Each subject completed four sessions: rest and light exercise on an ergometer bicycle while inhaling both hydrophobic (diethylhexylsebacate) and hygroscopic (NaCl) particles. The deposited fraction (DF) based on dry diameters was two to four times higher for the hydrophobic ultrafine particles than for the hygroscopic. The DF of hygroscopic ultrafine particles could be estimated by calculating their equilibrium size at 99.5% relative humidity. The differences in average DF due to exercise level and gender were essentially less than 0.03. However, the minute ventilation increased fourfold during exercise and was 18-46% higher for the men than for the women. Consequently the deposited dose of particles was fourfold higher during exercise and considerably increased for the male subjects. Some individuals consistently had a high DF in all four sessions. As an example, the results show that an average person exposed to 100-nm hydrophobic particles during exercise will receive a 16 times higher dose than a relaxed person exposed to an equal amount of hygroscopic (NaCl) particles.


  • Nuclear physics
  • Ergonomics and Aerosol Technology

Publishing year







Inhalation Toxicology





Document type

Journal article


Taylor & Francis


  • Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
  • Subatomic Physics



Research group

  • Aerosol, Nuclear Physics


  • ISSN: 0895-8378