Influence of impactor operating flow rate on particle size distribution of four jet nebulizers. Academic Article uri icon


  • When a nebulizer is evaluated by the Andersen Cascade Impactor (ACI), the flow rate is generally maintained at 28.3 L/min, as recommended by the manufacturer. However, the nebulizer flow rate that a patient inhales is only around 18 L/min. Because the drive flow of a nebulizer is approximately 6-8 L/min, the nebulized drug is mixed with outside air when delivered. Evaluating impactor performance at the 28.3 L/min flow rate is less than ideal because an additional 10 L/min of outside air is mixed with the drug, thereby affecting the drug size distribution and dose before inhalation and deposition in the human lung. In this study we operated the ACI at an 18.0 L/min flow rate to test whether the effect of the changing ambient humidity was being exaggerated by the 28.3 L/min flow rate. The study was carried out at three different relative humidity levels and two different impactor flow rates with four commercially available nebulizers. The mass median aerodynamic diameter (MMAD) and the geometric standard deviation (GSD) of the droplets were found to increase when the impactor was operated at a flow rate of 18 L/min compared to that of 28.3 L/min. The higher MMAD and GSD could cause the patient to inhale less of the drug than expected if the nebulizer was evaluated by the ACI at the operating flow rate of 28.3 L/min.

publication date

  • January 1, 2007