Sedimentation is the settling out of particles in the smaller airways of the bronchioles and alveoli, where the air flow is low and airway dimensions are small. The rate of sedimentation is dependent on the terminal settling velocity of the particles, so sedimentation plays a greater role in the deposition of particles with larger aerodynamic diameters. Hygroscopic particles may grow in size as they pass through the warm, humid air passages, thus increasing the probablility of deposition by sedimentation.

The following figure demonstrates the sedimentation mechanism in a bronchiole. The arrow-tipped line represents an airflow streamline.

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