A cfd approach for risk assessment based on airborne pathogen transmission

Hamid Motamedi Zoka, Mohammad Moshfeghi, Hadi Bordbar*, Parham A. Mirzaei*, Yahya Sheikhnejad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The outbreak of COVID-19 necessitates developing reliable tools to derive safety measures, including safe social distance and minimum exposure time under different circum-stances. Transient Eulerian–Lagrangian computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models have emerged as a viably fast and economical option. Nonetheless, these CFD models resolve the instantaneous distribution of droplets inside a computational domain, making them incapable of directly being used to assess the risk of infection as it depends on the total accumulated dosage of infecting viruses received by a new host within an exposure time. This study proposes a novel risk assessment model (RAM) to predict the temporal and spatial accumulative concentration of infectious exhaled droplets based on the bio-source’s exhalation profile and droplet distribution using the CFD results of respiratory events in various environmental conditions. Unlike the traditional approach in the bulk movement assessment of droplets’ outreach in a domain, every single droplet is traced inside the domain at each time step, and the total number of droplets passing through any arbitrary position of the domain is determined using a computational code. The performance of RAM is investigated for a series of case studies against various respiratory events where the horizontal and the lateral spread of risky zones are shown to temporarily vary rather than being fixed in space. The sensitivity of risky zones to ambient temperature and relative humidity was also addressed for sample cough and sneeze cases. This implies that the RAM provides crucial information required for defining safety measures such as safety distances or minimum exposure times in different environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number986
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • CFD
  • COVID-19
  • Eulerian–Lagrangian modeling
  • Respiratory droplets
  • Risk assessment


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