Air pollution, especially particulate matter (PM) has been on the news constantly due to global warming and the impact it has on our health.
In this article, we break down the key things you need to know about PM so you can protect your business and employees.
91% of people living in cities do not breathe in safe air1
Particulate matter is a range of particles of dust, dirt, and liquids that become suspended in the air2. Some of these are large enough to see, like smoke, smog, or soot.
However the most harmful are smaller, invisible particles. Helpfully, particulate matter is categorized by size. PM2.5 for example has a diameter of less than 2.5 microns. PM2.5 (also known as fine particles) can get into your lungs and even your bloodstream3. PM1 would therefore be smaller particles than Pm2.5. Simply put, the healthier the air, the fewer PMs in the workplace.
PM exposure, amongst others caused by emissions and industrial processes, is an important source of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases4. As these particles can become trapped indoors, especially with HVAC units bringing the ‘fresh’ air in from outside in, monitoring is vital.
WHO estimates that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air5
On top of this, research shows that there are three key areas of our health which are impacted by PM pollution:
All of which can lead to employee dissatisfaction and of course increased sick days.
Educational centers and healthcare facilities are at risk too as research has suggested that pollution can affect people throughout their lifetime. One study found that children and older people are among the most vulnerable to the effects of PM11. Ensure your buildings are safe by monitoring levels of PM indoors with the Airthings Business solution.
PM comes from both man-made and natural sources outside. The man-made variety can be generated by industry, construction work, landfills, agriculture, motor vehicles with either petrol or diesel engines, and friction from brakes and tires12.
Whereas the natural sources include wildfires, pollen-producing plants, spray whipped up from water, soil, and even volcanoes and other seismic activities. ‘Secondary particles’ are created when gases react in the air to form PM. Nitrogen oxides emitted by traffic and some industrial gases can become solids or liquids in this way.13
There are ways a business can protect employees from high PMs. As the primary source is from the air outside, which can become trapped indoors. Below we have compiled our easy steps to reduce PM levels in the workplace:
Is it a continuous problem? And are all of your sensors reporting high PM levels? If it is just one area, this could be that something indoors is creating high levels. Similarly, if you have high levels only at certain times of day, this could be a result of an action. For example, high levels when the building is being cleaned could be the cause. Hoovering and other cleaning activities can stir up dust into the air, thus creating the readings.
There are numerous HVAC filters on the market, when experiencing high PM levels it could be time to upgrade to a filter with a higher rating. As you know, stronger filters will require more energy from the HVAC system to push the air through them. Using Airthings data to show elevated PM levels, can help you to justify the need for the upgrade to relevant parties.
Want to learn more about the most comprehensive indoor air quality monitor in the Airthings for Business solution, including PM, Noise, Radon and more? Get even more control over your space today with Space Pro (formerly View PLus for Business) →