Theoretical analysis of the mechanism of action of chemical aerial disinfectants reveals that the rapid killing action which is obtained cannot be accounted for by a collision process between germicidal aerosol particles and the air-borne bacteria. However, a mechanism involving condensation of germicide molecules in the vapor state on to the bacteria-containing droplets results in a theoretical velocity of the correct order of magnitude.
Experimental tests of this theory show that pure germicide vapors free of aerosol droplets are almost instantly lethal to air-borne bacteria. Conversely, pure germicidal aerosols in the absence of vapor, had no effect on air-borne bacteria within 20 minutes or more. Therefore, it may be concluded on both theoretical and experimental grounds that rapid air sterilization requires the existence of the germicide in the vapor state.