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Aerosolization is the process or act of converting some physical substance into the form of particles small and light enough to be carried on the air i.e. into an aerosol.

The term is often used in medicine to refer specifically to the production of airborne particles (e.g. tiny liquid droplets) containing infectious virus or bacteria. The infectious organism is said to be aerosolized. This can occur when an infected individual coughs,[1] sneezes[2] exhales,[3] or vomits,[4] but can also arise from flushing a toilet,[5] or disturbing dried contaminated feces.[6]

Treatment of some respiratory diseases utilize aerosolization of a liquid medication using a nebulizer, which is then breathed in for direct transport to the lungs.

In the context of chemical and biological weapons, aerosolization is a means of dispersing a chemical or biological agent in an attack. See for example "Botulinum Toxin as a Biological Weapon".[7]


  1. ^ Tang, J. W.; Settles, G. S. (2008). "Coughing and Aerosols". New England Journal of Medicine 359 (15): e19. doi:10.1056/NEJMicm072576. PMID 18843121.  edit
  2. ^ "Microbe-laden aerosols" (PDF 217 KB). Microbiology Today (November 2005). 
  3. ^ Johnson, G. R.; Morawska, L. (2009). "The Mechanism of Breath Aerosol Formation". Journal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery 22 (3): 229–237. doi:10.1089/jamp.2008.0720. PMID 19415984.  edit
  4. ^ "Norovirus, Clinical Overview". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
  5. ^ Best, E. L.; Sandoe, J. A. T.; Wilcox, M. H. (2012). "Potential for aerosolization of Clostridium difficile after flushing toilets: The role of toilet lids in reducing environmental contamination risk". Journal of Hospital Infection 80 (1): 1–5. doi:10.1016/j.jhin.2011.08.010. PMID 22137761.  edit
  6. ^ "Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS): What You Need To Know" (PDF 1.4 MB). CDC. 
  7. ^ "Botulinum Toxin as a Biological Weapon". Center For Infectious Disease Research & Policy.