Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is a common air pollutant type. At high concentration levels in the room these tiny particles are a threat to your health.
What is Particulate Matter 2.5?
PM2.5 refers to tiny particles, which are 2.5 microns or less in width. A micron is a unit of distance measurement. To better visualize - imagine 3% of the average human hair diameter.
How does PM2.5 affect my health?
PM2.5 can penetrate the respiratory tract through the nose and throat, reaching the lungs.
Short-term exposure to small particles leads to eyes, nose, throat and lungs irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath.
Long-term exposure to PM2.5 shows in the development of chronic bronchitis decreased lung function and increased death from lung cancer and heart disease.
Those with respiratory and heart problems, children and the elderly are at most sensitive to PM2.5.
Where does PM2.5 come from?
There are several sources. Let's split them into - outdoor and indoor sources.
Outdoor PM2.5 sources: Exhausts from cars, trucks, buses; Fuel combustion: wood, fuel oil or coal; Massive forest fires. Power plants and factories with exceeding permissible emissions of gases.
PM2.5 is formed in the gases' chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Such reactions might occur many miles from the original source of emissions, which makes it difficult to accuse a particular enterprise of environmental pollution.
*PM 2.5 can be spread long distances from the source as it was with a gray dust cloud hovering over New Zealand as a result of a forest fire in Australia in January 2020.
Indoors PM2.5 sources: Stoves, Heaters, Fireplaces and Chimneys, Tobacco Smoke
Does an air quality standard for PM2.5 exist?
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM2.5 in 1997. The last revise was in 2012.
The short-term standard (24-hour or daily average) is 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air (μg / m3), and the long-term standard (average annual) is 12 μg / m3.
A microgram is a unit of weight. There are a million micrograms in a gram, and a pound is approximately 450 grams.
Ways to reduce my indoor exposure to PM2.5
You can start by learning how bad the situation is.
Step one is to check the air with a laser particle counter. Step two is to check if the current filters are capable of removing PM2.5 from the air.
HEPA purifiers remove PM2.5—even the smallest particles of PM2.5. Here's more about filter types and functions.
If your house if far from a plant or roads with dense traffic and therefore high car emissions - keep windows open for 15-20 min a day. Duct cleaning and ERV system installation will be a great option to make. But if you not sure of the need, start with Air Ducts and filter change.