Secondary Author(s)

Parker, Danny; Withers Jr., Charles

Report Number



Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



Air Quality; Ventilation


Historically, reducing aerosol-based transmission of respired viruses in indoor environments has been of importance for controlling influenza viruses and common-cold rhinoviruses. The present public health emergency associated with SARS-CoV-2 makes this topic critically important. Yet to be tested is the potential effectiveness of simple interventions that create an isolation zone (IZ) for a suspected/confirmed sick or sensitive person requiring quarantine. The intent in existing homes is to find a practical means to mitigate exposure to airborne contaminants. In creating an IZ in an occupied single-family home in the study, four simple strategies were tested. The test configurations were: (1) IZ windows closed with IZ bathroom exhaust ventilation fan off, (2) IZ windows closed with IZ exhaust fan on, (3) IZ window open with IZ exhaust fan off, and (4) IZ window open with IZ exhaust fan on. Incense-generated fine particulate matter (PM2.5) was used as a marker for virus transmission. The measured transfer of PM2.5 from the IZ into the main zone (MZ) of the house enabled us to determine the relative effectiveness of four containment strategies. Collectively, the data from pressure differential (across zones) and PM2.5 measurements suggested that the best containment strategy was achieved through continuously operating the bathroom exhaust fan while keeping the windows closed in the IZ (configuration 2). Interventions using open windows were found to be less reliable, due to variability in wind speed and direction, resulting in an unpredictable and sometimes detrimental pressure differential in the IZ with reference to MZ. Our findings strongly suggest a simple IZ exhaust ventilation strategy has the potential for mitigating the risk from the airborne spread of contaminants, such as SARS-CoV-2.

Date Published



Citation: Khan, T.R.; Parker, D.S.; Withers, C. Mitigation of Airborne Contaminant Spread through Simple Interventions in an Occupied Single-Family Home. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 5880. ijerph18115880

Local Subjects

Buildings - Air Quality; Buildings - Ventilation


FSEC Energy Research Center® Collection



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In Copyright