PM2.5 (PM stands for particulate matter) are microscopic particles that measure 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller which float around the air and can cause detrimental effects if inhaled. They are microscopic, sneaky particles that can wreak havoc on one’s indoor air quality and overall health if inhaled.
These particles can cause respiratory issues and stem from various sources, which will be discussed further in this blog post. Here’s everything you need to know about PM2.5 and how you can eliminate it from your ambient air, allowing you to breathe easier and live healthier!
PM2.5 in air pollution
Among all the pollutants that are lurking in the air, PM2.5 is the one that stands out the most as it’s no ordinary pollutant. They are ultra-fine particles that sneak their way into our respiratory system and cause a host of different asthma-like symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and, for those living with asthma, asthma attacks. Long-term exposure to these pesky particles has been linked to heart disease, lung cancer and even premature death.
They come from various sources, including vehicle emissions, and industrial activities and are also a byproduct of burning. PM2.5 are known to travel long distances, spreading their pollution far and wide. They play a huge role in air pollution as a whole as they contribute to the hazy smog we see in the air that diminishes visibility and make cities look hazy.
PM2.5 air pollution isn’t something to be taken lightly. It’s a huge red flag of poor indoor air quality and should be dealt with immediately through means including stricter regulations and actions like reducing pollutant emissions because when it comes to PM2.5, every breath counts.
Health effects of PM2.5 exposure
Short-term exposure to PM2.5 can hit pretty hard. When we breathe in these particles, they can irritate our airways and cause immediate respiratory symptoms like the aforementioned coughing and wheezing. For individuals living with asthma, bronchitis or other preexisting respiratory conditions, PM2.5 can undoubtedly trigger flare-ups and make it harder to breathe.
The harm doesn’t stop there. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 is where things get really serious. Once these particles make their way into our lungs, they don’t remain idle. Instead, they penetrate deep into our respiratory system, causing major health problems.
Long-term exposure to these pollutants is linked to respiratory diseases, reduced lung function and other diseases.
Unfortunately, the harm doesn’t stop there. Apart from respiratory diseases, studies have also shown that there is a strong association between long-term PM2.5 exposure and cardiovascular diseases. It can increase the likeliness of heart attacks, strokes, and other diseases.
Sources of PM2.5
These tiny troublemakers come from many different sources. Identifying and understanding these sources is vital to be able to tackle them head-on. They can be broken down into natural sources and manmade sources.
Bushfires, volcanic eruptions and desert storms are among the more common natural sources of PM2.5.
When forests ignite, and flames erupt, they produce a ton of PM2.5 particles into the air. The smoke and ash that they produce contain these ultra-fine particles that are quick to travel far and wide. They fill the air with a smoky aroma and cause a hazy appearance to the outdoor air.
Desert storms are known to kick up dust. As winds blow through the desert, they lift dust particles and sand into the air. These tiny grains can measure smaller than 2.5 microns. When the desert storms are on the horizon.
As with volcanic eruptions, PM2.5 explodes into the sky. The volcanic ash shoots into the atmosphere and travel long distances, causing dangerous levels of pollution. This is especially dangerous to those living near active volcanoes.
Human activities also significantly contribute to PM2.5 pollution levels.
Among them include fossil fuel emissions that are brought into the ambient air when coal, oil or gas is burned for energy and transportation. This means that everyday activities such as driving and power plant fuelling leads to PM2.5 production that, in turn, pollutes our air.
Then there are industrial emissions. Factories can be major PM2.5 contributors, whether it’s burning fuels, chimney smoke or chemical reactions. These industrial activities can increase the PM2.5 concentration in the air and contribute to pollution.
Fires and other combustion activities also contribute to PM2.5 concentrations in the air. Like bushfires, intentional fires from waste disposal and agricultural practices release PM2.5 levels.
Lastly, construction and demolition activities build up a lot of dust and debris that float around the air. This should be of particular interest to those living in houses under renovation. It’s always best to reduce time spent indoors when the renovation is underway, as the risk of inhaling PM2.5 is increased during this time. It’s recommended to seek alternative accommodation away from the renovated area during this time.
Strategies to reduce PM2.5 exposure
Although we can’t control everything that’s in the air, there are steps we can take to minimise our contact with those pesky particles. Check out some of these tips
Resources like this blog post can help you understand the true dangers of PM2.5, where they come from and how you can avoid them. Apart from this, staying up-to-date on air quality reports and forecasts in your area can help you make decisions on when you should be heading outdoors and plan your activities accordingly.
Create a clean indoor environment
Since we spend more than 90% of our time indoors, keeping your indoor environment clean is essential to make living spaces free from all pollutants. Regularly cleaning your home by dusting surfaces and vacuuming can reduce the presence of allergens and dust in your indoor environment.
Be mindful of indoor pollution sources
There are certain activities or products that many of us use on a daily basis that contribute to higher PM2.5 levels. The most common of them is smoking indoors. Avoid smoking indoors, as tobacco smoke is a significant source of fine particles. Minimise the use of candles, incense and other other products that release smoke or particles into the air.
Use an air purifier
Ionmax air purifiers are equipped with HEPA filters that effectively filter out dust, allergens and other pollutants, including PM2.5, from the air to improve indoor air quality. Ionmax HEPA filters are designed to capture particles as small as 0.3 microns with an efficiency of 99.97%, ensuring cleaner and healthier indoor air.
Protect yourself outdoors
First of all, it’s best to avoid the outdoors during peak pollution times, but if you have to go anyways, it’s best to protect yourself from PM2.5 exposure through the use of well-fitted N95 or N99 respirator masks. This tip is especially helpful during periods of high pollution or when engaging in activities that may stir up dust or pollutants.
Reducing PM2.5 concentration and exposure is a collective effort. By implementing these strategies in your daily life and supporting initiatives that prioritise clean air, you will be protecting yourself while also contributing to the betterment of society and the planet.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your needs.