How to protect ourselves from PM 2.5 pollution

2013-1-30

How to protect ourselves from PM 2.5 pollution?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), many health professionals, and, of course, the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services are all very concerned about particulate pollution. In fact, the concern about particulates is related to their very small size.

Since the late 1970's, we only monitored particulate matter pollution that was 10 microns in diameter or less, called PM 10. A micron (or micrometer) is a millionth of a meter. To give you an idea of how small PM 10 is, the dot above the letter "i" in a typical newspaper measures about 400 microns! 

2000 particles of PM2.5 could fit end-to-end across one end of a paper clip!

 

PM 10 particles are small enough to be inhaled and accumulate in the respiratory system. In the last decade, health studies indicated that particles even smaller than PM 10 can cause even more health problems! Now, in addition to monitoring PM 10, scientists and technicians monitor fine particles called PM 2.5, these particles measure 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller, or about 1/10,000 of an inch. These tiny particles are about 30 times smaller than the width of a hair on your head! These tiny particles are small enough to get inhaled past our defensive nose hairs and into our lungs. But it doesn't stop there! PM 2.5 can pass from our lungs into our blood supply and be carried throughout our bodies.

To protect us from the harm of air pollutants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for criteria air pollutants that are thought to cause the most harm to the health of humans and the environment. Particulate matter is one of these criteria pollutants.

There are two PM 10 standards, a 24-hour standard and an annual standard. These standards are:

  • 150 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) for the 24 hour standard

  • 50 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) for the annual standard

To determine if an area meets the annual standard, data is collected daily and averaged over the entire year. The last three years of  annual averages are used to determine attainment. An area will meet the 24-hour standard if the number of days per calendar year above 150 ug/m3 is equal to or less than "1."

In 1997, the USEPA revised their PM standard to take into account new findings about significant health problems associated with fine particulates, PM 2.5 and smaller. To the old PM10 standards, the USEPA added two new PM 2.5 standards set at:

 

  • 65 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3)as the 24 hour standard

  • 15 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3)as the annual standard

If staying in the house, still worry about the air pollution, how to face this situations? Well, maybe we can install a better shutters or blinds  system to stop the polluted air coming to the room.

Tags: pm 2.5 pollution, install the better windows, rolling up shutters, roll up blinds 

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