PM2.5 readings are commonly included by environmental authorities and companies in their air quality reports.
These readings refer to particulate matter that is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.
Because of their small size, PM2.5 particles can only be detected with an electron microscope.
PM2.5 particles enter the air through many sources. These include power plants, agricultural waste burning, incarnating trash, forest fires, dust storms, and pollution from motor vehicles. They are emitted directly into the air and coalesce into gases, often interacting with other particles in the atmosphere to form a deadly cocktail of dangerous fumes.
An example would be sulfur dioxide emitted from power plants and their interaction with oxygen and water in the atmosphere. The end result is sulfuric acid, which often rains down on buildings, corroding them.
The Dangers Associated With PM2.5
Because of their incredibly small size, PM2.5 particles are retained for longer periods of time in the air than heavy particles. This poses a strong risk to humans and animals who could inhale them right into their lungs. Some of the particles are small enough to penetrate the skin and bypass the throat, thus entering into the circulatory system.
Scientific studies have found higher instances of premature death from lung and heart diseases because of exposure to such fine particles. When exposed, fine particles can trigger debilitating chronic diseases such as heart attack, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems. Individuals with asthma are at a severe risk due to their sensitivity to breathing problems.
Long-term exposure to PM2.5 could also result in plaque deposits in arteries; this could cause a hardening of the arteries. These conditions are perfect for heart attacks and strokes. Studies have further shown that for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in PM2.5 particles, there is an increased 6% risk of contracting lung cancer.
Women who are pregnant are also vulnerable to PM2.5 exposure. Studies have shown a direct link between birth defects and exposure to fine particles. Furthermore, patients, such as children and adults, suffering from lung and heart diseases are also at risk, which necessitates taking further precautions when PM2.5 particles cross certain thresholds.
Measuring MP2.5 Readings
Because of their adverse impacts, PM2.5 pollutants are closely investigated by several health authorities across the world. Their results are collated and regularly updated in a column dedicated for PM2.5 in the Air Quality Index (AQI), Pollutants Standards Index (PSI), and similar standards used in many countries.
The damage caused by PM2.5 depends on two factors, the duration of exposure and the concentration of air pollutants. Prolonged exposure to PM2.5 increases a person’s risk of contracting debilitating diseases. For this reason, a 24-hour measurement is used to accurately evaluate the health effects of PM2.5 particles on people.
A PM2.5— measured over a 24-hour period— that falls between the range 1 and 12 is considered healthy and poses no risk. If it is higher, sensitive people can start experiencing respiratory problems. 55.5 to 150.4 is considered unhealthy and can cause respiratory diseases among elderly and children. Hazardous conditions of 250.5 to 500.4 can cause serious problems with the heart and lung s. These high levels might result in premature death in people with preexisting cardiovascular disease.
Protecting Yourself Against PM2.5
Exposure to PM2.5 is very normal in mainland cities and sprawling urban areas. Therefore, people living in these areas need to take necessary precautions. The best way to reduce exposure and protect your health is to wear OSHA certified masks that are designed specifically to filter out PM2.5 particles.
When indoors, consider installing an air purifier that is equipped with a HEPA filter. Only HEPA filters have the efficiency to remove fine particles from the air.
Air filters that are not certified by HEPA will reduce exposure to PM2.5 particles, but they will not be as efficient. For individuals driving over long distances, they should consider installing air purifiers for their car. It is necessary to install HEPA certified air purifiers that are equipped with activated carbon filters.
Other Actions You Can Take to Minimize PM2.5 Particles
For homeowners who are indoors with their windows and shutters closed, it is important to not burn candles, incense, or operate any devices that could emit harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide.
If air pollution is scheduled to last for several days, consider moving to another place until these levels are brought down to safe thresholds.
It also goes without saying that users should always wear disposable masks for added protection from dust and bacteria. Anti-bacterial masks that are washable can keep your mouth safe and protect you from air pollution, vehicle smoke, and bacterial infection.
The Debrief Me Mask boasts a powerful filter and is engineered to provide the maximum level of protection. To learn more and get your personal protective gear, contact DebriefMe today!