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Know your air pollutants: PM 2,5 particles

Here at AIR8 Magazine we often talk about different kinds of air pollutants, but we haven’t talked in depth about any of them. This new series of articles will fix that.

An entire ecosystem of microscopic agents

It may be common sense to us now, but there was a time when it was outrageous to believe that there are microbes, pathogens and small particles of invisible dust coexisting in the same pockets of air that we breathe in. Democritus, together with other exponents of the Atomist school, was among the first people to propose that all objects in the Universe are constituted by atoms; small units of discrete matter that function as the building blocks of reality. Although now we know that that atoms themselves are made of sub-atomic particles, this original idea was revolutionary when it was first stated in Ancient Greece, more than two thousand years ago. It opened the mind into thinking about various scales of life and matter bellow the observable world.

This new frame of thought saw little development in the following centuries. Although plagues and pandemics of all kinds overtook Europe, Asia and Africa, few were the people who suspected that living organisms much smaller than what the eye can see were behind these events. Vague sanitary measurements were taken, and a few ideas were put forth in an attempt to understand the roots of the problem and the mechanisms of infection, all of it mixed with the superstitions and proto-science of the day. It wouldn’t be until the seventeenth century, in England and the Netherlands, and after the invention of the microscope, when two men would give the first eye witness accounts for the existence of microorganisms: Robert Hooke, who in 1665 saw fruiting structures in molds, and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, who discovered the first bacteria in 1676.

These two major discoveries allowed for an insight that would latter become an integral part of both the medical practice and common sense: the air we breath is packed with tiny microscopic agents, both dead and alive, that can potentially be harmful to our health. An insight that not only was correct, but one that would become worse for us with the advent of the industrial revolutions.

Birth of a new health problem

Although necessary for our economic growth, industry has never been kind with both the land and our health. Ever since its beginnings, the side effects of industrial processes have always been the contamination of the environment and the worsening conditions of our well being. These days, whenever we burn fossil fuels, we generate a series of chemicals and gases that pollute the air, the soil and the water supplies. The particles that make up these pollutants are of various different sizes. One of the most dangerous among this type of industrial-grade pollutants is also one of the most minuscule: Particulate Matter 2,5. Or PM 2,5 for short.

We need to first clear something out. PM 2,5 does not refer specifically to the chemical contaminants themselves, like Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO) or Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), but the size of the individual particle itself: 2,5 microns (or micrometers), which is about 0,000039 inches. As a comparison, the smallest thing any human eye can see is within the range of 0,1 millimeters, or 0,0039 inches. The only way for us to see anything in the scale of microns is by using a microscope. This should paint a more accurate picture of the kind of air pollution we are dealing with.

PM 2,5 particles carry with them all kinds of chemical and biological toxins. Gusts of air push them into all spaces, both outdoors and indoors, but it is their small size that poses the real threat. By breathing them in, they make their way into our lungs, thus kick starting a deterioration of our respiratory system that may manifest in slight or severe ways. Shortness of breath, sneezing, constant coughing and irritation of lungs and throat may be bothersome, but they will be the least of anyone’s problems once PM 2,5 particles have latched inside his or her body. Long term exposure may result in asthma and disfunction of the lungs.

But it does not stop there. 2,5 microns is small; incredibly small. So much, that these particles may even sip into the bloodstream and affect the vessels themselves, which could eventually cause heart disease. Our skin is also at risk, as it has been found that exposure to PM 2,5 can cause irritation, atopic dermatitis, allergic diseases and wrinkled skin.

air pollutants

The environment is affected as well

PM 2,5 particles are the perfect agents for air pollution. They also obscure visibility by covering the sky with a yellowish layer that absorbs and scatters light into the atmosphere in unnatural ways, making it look hazy and unhealthy. And they do not stay outdoors. As soon as we open a window to ventilate our homes or offices, the change in pressure brings them in, polluting our indoors air.

But air isn’t the only medium by which PM 2,5 propagate. Plants, soil and water can absorb these particles and be drastically affected by them. Soil contaminated by PM 2,5 becomes acidic; their organic and metal compounds easily affect plant growth and produce, which on itself is another threat to the support of life on this planet. Water becomes cloudy and the deterioration of its quality is soon to follow.

This is not a regional problem, that much is clear. Back in 2019, PM 2,5 emissions were responsible of more than 4 million deaths worldwide. In the same year, the EU saw roughly 307.000 premature deaths attributed to them. That is a minuscule number compared to the global total, but still considerable enough to be reflected about.

On this regard, the EU is working on a zero pollution act focused on the reduction of premature deaths caused by PM 2,5 emissions. The magic number is a 55% reduction by 2030, relative to the outrageously high numbers of 2005: 456.000 premature deaths. This, of course, is well within our capabilities as an organized society, but it is also a somewhat long distance goal. Although we are just eight years away from reaching the date, there is no guarantee that such reduction will be achieved at the desired time. Planetary aims require planetary frames of time, so we are probably looking at a problem that will require more than just effort from our part until we see tangible end results.

Our AIR8 air filters

Just because it takes time to curb PM 2,5 emissions doesn’t mean we can’t do something about it in our indoors. We care about the quality of the air that we breathe, and thus offer a range of products that can easily and effectively filter out and eliminate not only PM 2,5 particles, but also other nasty pollutants, pathogens and viruses, like Covid-19.

We all should conduct our lives within safe air spaces. That is why we employ the most advance medical-grade technology in the production of our filters. High Efficiency Particle Air filters, of HEPA for short, can filter out 99,97% of all dangerous air pollutants hanging indoors, thus guaranteeing a breathable air that is fresh and sanitary.

All of our air filters use between four and six stages of pre-filtration and filtration, like Cold Catalyst, Ioniser and UV-GI light. Energy consumption is on the low ends of the spectrum, and they are so silent you will forget they are even there. Your business will be greatly benefited by our products, as not only are they pretty and modern looking: they are the best at doing the job they were designed to do. We back the quality of our technology with the CE marking that each of our filters proudly display, a testament that our commitment to health and well being closely follows the European Commission’s standards for safety and environmental protection.

By choosing us, you are choosing the market’s best offer in price and quality. At AIR8 we have the technology necessary to make of your indoor space the purest that it can be.

 

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