What are PM2.5 particles?

Recently with accelerated industrialization and urbanization, the air pollution is increasing at an alarming rate. Which in turn is severely impacting human health. The pathogenicity of PM depends on its size, composition, origin and its ability to produce reactive oxygen. The studies have shown that particles having a diameter smaller than 10 microns impacts human health to a greater extent. 

So in this article we will try to explain everything regarding the PM2.5 particles.  We will see what basically are PM2.5. How do they affect us? What are the sources that generate PM2.5? How it affects our health and finally what measures we can take to monitor the PM2.5 levels at our homes. So read this article till the end to know. 

What are PM2.5 levels? 

The airborne particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture of several chemical species. It varies greatly in size, shape and chemical composition. The particles are categorised on the basis of their diameter for air quality regulatory purposes. The particles having a diameter of 2.5 microns or less that are suspended in the ambient air are defined as PM2.5 particles. Therefore PM2.5 also comprises a portion of PM10.

What are the sources of PM2.5?

Some of the Sources of PM2.5 particles includes:

The PM can either be emitted directly from the source (primary particles) or formed through chemical reactions (secondary particles) of different gases. These gases includes; Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), and certain organic compounds. 

Some common sources of PM10 includes:

  • Gasoline combustion
  • Oil
  • Diesel fuel
  • Wood burning 
  • Smoke from fires
  • Vehicular exhaust 
  • Industrial emissions 

What are the health effects of PM2.5 particles?

PM2.5 is harmful because the particles have small diameters and they can be inhaled into the lungs easily. Along with that they have large surface areas and are capable of carrying harmful toxins into the lungs. These toxins eventually get deposited throughout the airways. It can cause tissue damage and lung inflammation and can even enter your bloodstream.

There are a number of health impacts caused by the PM10 particles such as; 

PM2.5 if inhaled in high quantities can cause:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Premature mortality
  • Acute and chronic bronchitis 
  • Asthma attacks 
  • Can induce tissue damage 
  • Lung inflammation
  • Increased hospital admissions for heart and lung disease 

What are the environmental effects of PM2.5?

Recent studies have shown the fine particles are usually the major cause of smog. 

There are several ways through which the particulates affect the environment:

  • Reduces visibility
  • Promote climate change (black carbon particles)
  • Lowers the atmospheric temperature (nitrate and sulfate particles)
  • Deposition on plants, soil and water and affects the quality 
  • Soiling of materials

 

Does particulate matter affect indoor air quality?

Yes, particulates can affect the indoor air quality. The particulates from the outdoors can infiltrate your house through doors, windows and through cracks and crevices. 

The particles may also have an  indoor origin; which include allergens, such as; pollens, mold spores, dust, tobacco smoke, cooking, wood burning, aerosols derived from cleaning agents and chemicals etc. 

 

 

What are the ambient Air Quality Standards?

Ambient air quality standards are defined as the maximum amount of pollutants that can be present in the ambient air that does not pose any health hazard. According to the Environmental Protection Agency United States,the National Ambient Air Quality Standard the 24 hour average concentration of PM2.5 is 35 micrograms per metric cubes (35 µg/m3). 

 

What measures can we take to protect ourselves from PM2.5?

There are some measures you can adopt to reduce your exposure to these harmful pollutants :

Avoid going out at peak hours

Avoid going outdoors during the peak hours of pollution. Air pollution levels are highest in the afternoon, so try not to go outside at that time. Doing so can increase the chance of getting exposed to high levels of pollution. 

Monitor air pollution levels

You can keep a check on the air quality index of your area to get insight about the pollution levels. There are certain websites designed for this purpose such as the Environmental Protection Agency. These sites can be accessed anytime of the day.

You can also get information from local radio, television, and newspapers. You can even contact local hospitals etc and can plan your outdoor schedule accordingly. 

Avoid high-pollution areas

Pollution levels are the highest near the roadways especially within 1/4 mile of a road. If you have an existing lung and heart condition, highly congested urban areas and smoking areas should also be avoided.

Installing Air Purifiers 

Given below are the links of few air purifiers that will keep your house clean and safe:

Air purifier: Invisiclean Aura air purifier 

  • Features: Invisiclean air purifier filters certain airborne contaminants like; particles, allergens, dust mites, pollen, pet dander microorganisms etc.
  • Filters an area of upto 1,276 sq ft. 
  • Saves energy and consumes low EMF radiation 
  • Consumes up to 82% less electricity compared to other air purifiers. 
  • It is equipped with replaceable H13 99.985% true HEPA filter and activated carbon pre filter and optional UV light filter which is efficient against harmful bacteria, viruses, and mold spores.
  • Operates at low sound levels.

Air purifier: Medify MA-40 Air Purifier

  • Features: Efficient against 99.9% particles of size 0.3-0.1  microns, which includes; particulate matter, odors, smoke, pet dander, dust etc. 
  • Ideal for large spaces like; homes, apartments, bedrooms, living rooms, offices, schools, universities, classrooms, hospitals, restaurants, and other businesses.
  • Comes with 3 fan speed options and runs at 110 Volts.
  • Produces a sound of 46 dB- 66dB.
  • Comes with an option of child lock, which is great for pets and kids. 
  • The life of the filter is almost 3,000 hours which lasts for about 6 months.

Air purifier : Westinghouse 1701 HEPA Air Purifier

  • Features : Westinghouse air purifier uses the patented NCCO technology (Nano Confined Catalytic Oxidation) which kills the harmful pollutants by the action of active oxygen. The harmful pollutants are decomposed into harmless compounds such as carbon dioxide and water molecules
  • The filter offers a removal efficiency of 99.97% against harmful viruses and bacteria and also removes 99.72% of particulate matter including PM 10 particles. 
  • This air purifier offers a four stage purification process; namely the Pre-filter, Oxygen Generator, True HEPA filter, and the NCCO Reactor.
  • Westinghouse air purifier is a medical grade true HEPA filter with removal efficiency of 99.97 against allergens as small as 0.3 microns. 
  • When the filter needs to be replaced the filter indicator provides an alert. 
  • The purifier is suitable for large to medium rooms like bedroom, kitchen, office, etc having an area of about 300 sq ft.

Air purifier: Instant Air Purifier

  • Features: Instant air purifiers are proven to kill 99.9% of covid-19 virus, bacteria, mold, and other harmful viruses. 
  • With its Advanced 3-in-1filtration; HEPA-13, Activated Carbon, Antimicrobial coating and plasma ion technology it removes 99.97% of pollutants like particulate matter tobacco smoke, pet dander, certain odors and other impurities. 
  • Its advanced sensors offer a 24×7 air quality monitoring with auto fan speed adjust feature.
  • It filters the air in an area of 126 sq ft 5x per hour 
  • With its whisper quiet night mode it offers lower noise for a sound sleep.
  • The filters last upto 8 month, after that it needs to be replaced.

Air purifier: Shark HE601 Air Purifier 

  • Features: With its high speed  six micro fan speed it offers an even distribution of airflow. 
  • Its Clean Sense IQ monitors  air quality, auto-adjusts power and constantly maintains clean airflow.
  • The filter has an efficiency of 99.98% against particle size upto 0.3 microns; which includes the particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) also. 
  • Highly efficient against dust, dander, allergens, smoke, and household odors like cooking, smoking, cleaning products etc. 
  • Ideal for rooms having a dimension of 1,200 square feet.
  • rooms, offices etc.
  • Purifies an area of upto 215 sq.ft within an hour 
  • Operates at noise levels as low as 23dB.
  • Comes with an  advanced noise-reducing and double ball-bearing fan blade to keep noise levels low;  ideal for a peaceful sleep. 
  • Energy efficient and cost effective; comes with an affordable replacement filter and costs only $7.5 for 8 hours of usage. 

Air purifier:  Elechomes EPI081 Air Purifier

  • Features: Comes with a 4-in-1 purification system namely; The pre-filter, ATP-HEPA protective filter, activated carbon filter, and clean-room grade H13 true HEPA filter.
  • ideal  for bedrooms, living rooms, offices etc.
  • Highly efficient against particulate matter and other pollutants like dust, pet dander, odor etc.
  • Purifies an area of upto 215 sq.ft within an hour 
  • Operates at noise levels as low as 23dB.
  • Comes with an  advanced noise-reducing and double ball-bearing fan blade to keep noise levels low;  ideal for a peaceful sleep. 
  • Energy efficient and cost effective; comes with an affordable replacement filter 
  • and costs only $7.5 for 8 hours of usage. 

Air purifier: Miko Air Purifier

  • Features: Miko air purifier comes with several interesting features  like multiple fan speeds, built-in timer, maximum surface area for air flow, all around suction, replacement filter indicator and essential oil port. 
  • The filter is made of H13 medical grade filter, a preliminary filter, and anti-bacterial filter for super clean filtration and performance.
  • Large filtration components that offers all rounded purification
  • Miko air purifiers are effective against allergies, particulate matter, dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke, bacteria, viruses, germs, fungi, mold etc. 
  • The Oscillating Intake process removes all particles in a tornado motion and  helps maximize efficiency.
  • Comes with an airtight insulation. 
  • Erosion protectant  ensures safety and durability.

Installing HVAC systems

The HVAC system works efficiently towards filtering airborne contaminants and also helps in continuous circulation of air.

Given below are the links of few HVAC systems that will keep your house clean and safe:

HVAC System:  Honeywell F300E1019 Electronic Air Cleaner

  • Features: This can be operated with gas, oil and AC systems. 
  • Efficiency for capturing particles is upto 98%.
  • Has a very low pressure drop

HVAC System: DAIKIN Inverter Air Conditioner Heat Pump System

  • Features: Daikin’s ductless technology offers  greater  energy efficiency; cools and warms up the room fast.
  • Smart inverter technology with integrated inverted variable speed compressor
  • Provides continuous heating and cooling with minimum temperature fluctuations.
  • Quiet operation; with indoor sound levels as low as 37 decibels. 

Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.

How is the air quality in Long Beach?

Fossil Fuels and Air Pollution

How is the air quality in El Paso?

Conclusion

So in this article we discussed what basically are PM2.5, why they are harmful, what are its sources and how we can monitor the PM2.5 levels at our homes. We hope that this article was informative for you.

References 

https://www.epa.gov/criteria-air-pollutants/naaqs-table
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4740125/
https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/resources/visibility-reducing-particles-and-health
https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/indoors/air/pmq_a.htm#:~:text=Particles%20in%20the%20PM2.5%20size%20range%20are%20able%20to,nose%20and%20shortness%20of%20breath.

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