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Effects of breath holding at low and high lung volumes on amount of exhaled particles

Journal article
Authors Helene Holmgren
Emilie Gerth
Evert Ljungström
Per Larsson
Ann-Charlotte Almstrand
Björn Bake
Anna-Carin Olin
Published in Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology
Volume 185
Issue 2
Pages 228 -234
ISSN 1569-9048
Publication year 2013
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Medicine
Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Pages 228 -234
Language en
Keywords airway closure, lung lining fluid, droplet, exhalation, breath holding, deposition
Subject categories Physiology, Respiratory Medicine and Allergy


Exhaled breath contains particles originating from the respiratory tract lining fluid. The particles are thought to be generated during inhalation, by reopening of airways closed in the preceding expiration. The aim here was to explore processes that control exhaled particle concentrations. The results show that 5 and 10 s breath holding at residual volume increased the median concentration of particles in exhaled air by 63% and 110%, respectively, averaged over 10 subjects. An increasing number of closed airways, developing on a timescale of seconds explains this behaviour. Breath holds of 5, 10 and 20 s at total lung capacity decreased the concentration to 63%, 45% and 28% respectively, of the directly exhaled concentration. The decrease in particle concentration after breath holding at total lung capacity is caused by gravitational settling in the alveoli and associated bronchioles. The geometry employed here when modelling the deposition is however not satisfactory and ways of improving the description are discussed.

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