What is it?

PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less, such as dust. In comparison, an average human hair strand has a cross-section of 50 microns. which is much smaller than PM2.5. Exhaust fumes from vehicles, gas appliances and fuel combustion are common sources of outdoor PM2.5. In indoor environments, sources of PM2.5 include cooking on fuel-burning stoves, burning candles or oil lamps, tobacco smoke, fireplaces, and fuel-burning space heaters.

As these particles are so light and so tiny, they remain suspended in the air and can easily be inhaled. As a result, PM2.5 levels above a certain level present serious health risks.

Why do we need to monitor it?

Because PM2.5 is so small, it can easily go into the respiratory tract or circulatory system, causing serious health problems. Researchers have found that exposure to PM2.5 can shorten life expectancy by 8.6 months. In one study (Orru H. et al., 2011), it was estimated that for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) increase in PM2.5 levels, there is a 6% increase in cardiopulmonary mortality and an 8% increase in lung cancer mortality.

Below are a few health effects that can be caused by exposure to PM2.5, ranging from mild to severe:

  1. Eye, nose, and throat irritations
  2. Asthma
  3. Chronic respiratory issues
  4. Cardiopulmonary diseases
  5. Lung cancer
  6. Infertility in men
  7. Increased risk of premature birth

What are the benefits of regulating PM2.5 indoors?

Increased Life Span

If PM2.5 concentrations are high, regulating them to recommended levels can improve average life expectancy. The point has been thoroughly researched in a 7-year study conducted in the United States. The study found that life spans increase by nearly 4 months for every 10 μg/m3 decrease in PM2.5

Prevention of Severe Health Issues

Most respiratory and cardiopulmonary diseases can be avoided by maintaining a healthy level of PM2.5 indoors. Those who are in good health may tolerate slightly elevated levels, while others are likely to suffer respiratory problems and irritation with even minor deviations. Keeping this pollutant under control is crucial for a healthy, safe, and comfortable home.

Reduced Transmission of Viruses and Harmful Pathogens

The particles in PM2.5 are often carriers of bacterial and viral pathogens. Due to their size, these particles can easily enter our bodies and target organs such as the lungs and stomach even before we experience any symptoms. Taking them out of the air can be a significant step in reducing the spread of contagious diseases.

What can be done to regulate PM2.5?

Close outdoor pathways

Most of the PM2.5 concentration occurs within the indoor spaces due to particles entering through doors, windows, and other openings. It is best to keep windows and doors closed if your home is located near a busy area with high air pollution.

Install air filters

Because particulate matter is so small, it is impossible to remove it from your space. They can easily float in the air or settle on surfaces where they are easily lifted. Having filters installed in your room ensures that the air you are breathing has passed through multiple sieves of micro and nanoscales to remove PM2.5.

Sanitize the air

There are many ways of reducing PM2.5 circulating in an indoor environment and keeping people protected from its harmful effects, including UV germicidal light, steam pressure sterilization, negative air ionization, and ozone oxidation.

How does uHoo help in regulating PM2.5?

In addition to offering accurate PM2.5 readings in real-time, uHoo can integrate with systems that regulate this parameter, such as air filtration and sanitation equipment. uHoo measures and monitors PM2.5 levels, and the data can be viewed on the uHoo App in an easy-to-read format. Whenever a deviation from the ideal range occurs, you will receive an immediate notification so you can take the appropriate measures.

uHoo can help you manage and take control of your indoor air quality:

  • Measure and monitor all the important air quality parameters so you can create a healthier and safer home
  • Provide a real-time risk assessment of virus survival and transmission in the air with the uHoo Virus Index
  • Easily integrate with your heating, ventilation and air cooling systems to manage your indoor air quality

References

Correia AW, Pope CA, & Dockery DW. (2013). Effect of air pollution control on life expectancy in the United States: an analysis of 545 U.S. counties for the period from 2000 to 2007. Epidemiology, 23-31.

Dominici F, Peng RD, & Bell ML. (2006). Fine particulate air pollution and hospital admission for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. JAMA.

EPA. (2012). Revised Air Quality Standards for Particle Pollution and Updates to the Air Quality Index (AQI).

Kapwata, T., Language, B., Piketh, S., & Wright, C. Y. (2018, March 23). Variation of Indoor Particulate Matter Concentrations and Association with Indoor/Outdoor Temperature: A Case Study in Rural Limpopo, South Africa. MDPI.

Liang, Z., Yang, Y., Qian, Z., Ruan, Z., Chang, J., Vaughn, M. G., Qingguo Zhao, & Hualiang Lin. (2019, May). Ambient PM2.5 and birth outcomes: Estimating the association and attributable risk using a birth cohort study in nine Chinese cities. Environment International, 126, 329-335.

Nadali, A., Arfaeinia, H., Fahiminia, M., & Asadgol, Z. (2020, February 25). Indoor and outdoor concentration of PM10, PM2.5 and PM1 in residential building and evaluation of negative air ions (NAIs) in indoor PM removal. Environmental Pollutants and Bioavailability, 32(1), 47-55.

New York State Department of Health. (n.d.). Fine Particles (PM 2.5) Questions and Answers. Retrieved June 3, 2021, from https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/indoors/air/pmq_a.htm

Orru H., Maasikmets M., & Lai T. (2011). Health impacts of particulate matter in five major Estonian towns: main sources of exposure and local differences. Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, 4, 247-258.

Schwartz J. (2000). Harvesting and long term exposure effects in the relation between air pollution and mortality. Am J Epidemiol.

Wang, L., Luo, D., Liu, X., Zhu, J., Wang, F., Li, B., & Li, L. (2021, February). Effects of PM2.5 exposure on reproductive system and its mechanisms. Chemosphere, 264(1).