Particulate Air Pollution

It is no secret that the burning of fossil fuels causes air pollution and adversely affects the health of the human population. Over the last 10 years, research has been providing new insight about the health consequences of particulate air pollution. Generated by the use of fossil energy, respirable-sized particles pose a major threat to our environment and health. Common particulates include pollen, mold spores,

Did you know?

  • The average home collects about 2 pounds of dust per week.
  • Visible particles constitute only about 10% of indoor air.
  • Particle visibility depends on the eye itself. In other words, light intensity and quality, background and particle type.
  • Particles on furniture and those in a shaft of light are approximately 50 microns or larger.
  • It may be possible to see particles as small as 10 microns under favorable conditions.
  • Particles of 1 micron or less adhere to surfaces by molecular adhesion. Scrubbing is generally the only way to remove them.
  • Larger particles tend to settle out of the atmosphere due to weight.
  • Smaller, "respirable" particles remain suspended in the air virtually indefinitely - until breathed in.
  • Approximately 98-99% of all particles by count are in the size range of 5 microns or less. These particles tend to remain in suspension or settle out so slowly that only quality electronic air cleaners and HEPA air cleaners are effective in removing these particles.
  • The majority of harmful particles are less than .3 microns in size. (That's smaller than a HEPA filter can remove from the air).
  • The average person breathes in about 16,000 quarts of air per day. Each quart contains some 70,000 visible and invisible particles. That's over a billion particles per day that our lungs have to filter out!
  • A 9' x 12' carpet or rug will collect an average of about 10 pounds of dust per year!
  • 100% of all respiratory ailments and disease are caused by inhaled particulate. That's right, 100%.
  • Consider this: If your immune system has to work so hard to protect your body from the air you breathe, how can it protect you from anything else?

Common Airborne Particles and Their Sizes in Microns

Particles are commonly measured in microns, a metric unit of measure. There are 25,400 microns in one inch. This dot (.) is approximately 1/64 of an inch wide and equals 615 microns.

Common Items and Their Respective Particle Sizes

Postage Stamp, 1 inch high 25,400 microns
Eye of a Needle 1,230 microns
Beach Sand 100 to 2000 microns
Fertilizer 10 to 1000 microns
Pollens 10 to 1000 microns
Human Hair 40 to 300 microns
Mold Spores 10 to 30 microns
Combustion-related Carbon Monoxide
(motor vehicles, wood burning,
open burning, industrial processes)
up to 2.5 microns
Coal Dust 1 to 100 microns
Anthrax 1 to 5 microns
Yeast Cells 1 to 5 microns
Bacteria .5 to 20 microns
Radioactive Fallout .1 to 10 microns
HIV .1 microns
Oil Smoke .03 to 1 micron
Tobacco Smoke .01 to 1 microns
Viruses .002 to .3 microns
Typical Atmospheric Dust .001 to 30 microns
Pesticides & Herbicides .001microns

Return to Air Quality Articles  - Return to Air Purification Home

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