Mitigation of Aerosols Generated During Exercise Testing With a Portable High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filter With Fume Hood

Andrés Garzona-Navas, Pavol Sajgalik, Ibolya Csécs, J. Wells Askew, Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, Alexander S. Niven, Bruce D. Johnson, Thomas G. Allison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The role of portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters for supplemental aerosol mitigation during exercise testing is unknown and might be relevant during COVID-19 pandemic. Research Question: What is the effect of portable HEPA filtering on aerosol concentration during exercise testing and its efficiency in reducing room clearance time in a clinical exercise testing laboratory? Study Design and Methods: Subjects were six healthy volunteers aged 20 to 56 years. In the first experiment, exercise was performed in a small tent with controlled airflow with the use of a stationary cycle, portable HEPA filter with fume hood, and particle counter to document aerosol concentration. Subjects performed a four-stage maximal exercise test that lasted 12 min plus 5 min of pretest quiet breathing and 3 min of active recovery. First, they exercised without mitigation then with portable HEPA filter running. In a separate experiment, room aerosol clearance time was measured in a clinical exercise testing laboratory by filling it with artificially generated aerosols and measuring time to 99.9% aerosol clearance with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) only or HVAC plus portable HEPA filter running. Results: In the exercise experiment, particle concentrations reached 1,722 ± 1,484/L vs 96 ± 124/L (P < .04) for all particles (>0.3 μm), 1,339 ± 1,281/L vs 76 ± 104/L (P < .05) for smaller particles (0.3 to 1.0 μm), and 333 ± 209/L vs 17 ± 19/L (P < .01) for larger particles (1.0 to 5.0 μm) at the end of the protocol in a comparison of mitigation vs portable HEPA filter. Use of a portable HEPA filter in a clinical exercise laboratory clearance experiment reduced aerosol clearance time 47% vs HVAC alone. Interpretation: The portable HEPA filter reduced the concentration of aerosols generated during exercise testing by 96% ± 2% for all particle sizes and reduced aerosol room clearance time in clinical exercise testing laboratories. Portable HEPA filters therefore might be useful in clinical exercise testing laboratories to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1388-1396
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • COVID-19
  • HEPA filter
  • aerosol
  • exercise testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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