Particulate matter (PM) is a common proxy indicator for air pollution and it affects more people than any other pollutant. PM is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets that are suspended in the air, such as aerosols, smoke, fumes, dust, ash, and pollen.
PM can be found in various sizes - some you can see, such as smoke in the air, while others are small and cannot be seen with the human eye. Finer particles can be harmful to our health; those with a diameter of 10 microns (PM10) or less can be breathed in and lodged deep inside our lungs. Breathing in fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less (PM2.5) is incredibly health-damaging as it can penetrate the lung barrier and enter our blood system. As a point of reference, a diameter of 2.5 micrometers is about 3% the diameter of human hair.
Common Sources of PM:
- Cooking, especially when the food is fried, grilled, burned, toasted, or sautéed
- Residential wood burning: furnaces, fireplaces, and chimneys
- Burning of candles, incense, air fresheners, and diffusers
- Mold spores
- Power plants
- Motor vehicles
- Forest fires
- Agricultural burning
- Volcanic eruptions
- Dust storms
Breathing in PM may result in health effects including:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Aggravated asthma
- Decreased lung function
- Increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing
- Nonfatal heart attacks
Prolonged and chronic exposure to fine PM is known to cause serious health problems, such as premature death, lung cancer, and cardiovascular or respiratory disease.
It's important to reduce your exposure to PM whenever possible. This may include staying indoors (with your windows closed) during times when PM levels are high outdoors, keeping/using your PM-producing products in well-ventilated areas of the home, installing air cleaners, and replacing your filters regularly.
For more tips, check out this article on how to improve the air quality in your home.
Want to keep an eye on the PM levels in your home?
That's why we created HAVEN IAQ - a whole-home system that works to improve the air that you breathe. Complete with the HAVEN Central Air Monitor and Controller, this patented system will help you track and improve the air quality in your home. Information, alerts, and reports are available 24/7 at your fingertips on the HAVEN Air app, anytime and anywhere.
If you're interested in installing a HAVEN IAQ system in your home, speak with your HVAC contractor to book an installation. If your contractor is not currently carrying HAVEN products, they can reach out to us at email@example.com for more information.