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What Particles Are Floating In Your Air?

Posted by Warner Service on Jun 26, 2018 9:00:00 AM


Warner Service of Frederick, Maryland, knows a thing or two about ventilation. Here’s what you should know about indoor air quality and particle pollution.

What is particle pollution?

Particle pollution (also known as particulate matter) is when particles of liquids or solids are in the air. These particles can be large or dark enough to see, like smoke, but most are microscopic.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) of the National Science Foundation, notes “little particles in the atmosphere that are so small and light” that they float in the air.

Where do particles come from?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), particles come from primary and secondary sources. Primary sources cause particle pollution on their own, such as wood stoves or forest fires.

Secondary sources, such as power plants, coal fires, factors, cars and trucks, and construction sites, let off gases that form particles.

NCAR breaks separates particles by natural and unnatural sources, all of which affect indoor air quality and have the ability to change the Earth's climate.

What is the most dangerous particle?

According to NCAR, aerosols are the most common -- and damaging -- particle. Because aerosols are a natural and anthropogenic (environmental pollution that originates from human activity) part of air pollution, they’re the most dangerous to humans and dampen the effects of global warming.

Examples of natural aerosols include fog, dust, forest substances, and geyser steam. Examples of anthropogenic aerosols include haze, particulate air pollutants (dust, soot, fly ash, and pollen), and smoke.

Why are aerosols the most dangerous particles?

Aerosols “help clouds form, and clouds have an impact on climate. The millions of little droplets of water that make up a cloud each need a little particle, like an aerosol, to condense upon. More aerosols can create more clouds.

Different types of clouds may have different impacts on climate, and this is a topic that scientists are still exploring. In general, clouds reflect incoming solar radiation back out to space.”

What are other examples of particles?

Sea Salt

An example of a “good” particle is sea salt, a natural byproduct of the evaporation of oceans. According to the NCAR, “Aerosols in the atmosphere can change the amount of solar energy that is reflected away from Earth. Different types of aerosols react differently when hit with sunlight. Sea salt particles reflect sunlight back out into space.”

This creates a natural balance by cooling the Earth, as the sun is reflected back into space instead of being absorbed and heating up the Earth’s atmosphere.

Fossil Fuels

An example of a “bad” particle is fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and gas. According to the NCAR, “Black carbon particles from burning of wood or fossil fuels absorb most of the sunlight that hits them.”

This absorption heats up the Earth, exacerbating the effects of global warming. However, new technology offers energy efficient methods of using fossil fuels for cars, factories, and power plants. This eco-friendly technology limits air pollution and positively affects human health but will speed up the global warming process, according to the NCAR.

How does this affect indoor air quality?

According to the CDC, “Breathing in particle pollution can be harmful to your health. Bigger particles...can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat.” These large particles include dust from roads, farms, dry riverbeds, construction sites, and mines.

Along with eyes, nose, and throat irritation, particle pollution negatively affects breathing, causes lung cancer, and produces a low birth weight. Smaller particles are even more dangerous because they can get into the deep parts of your lungs or blood.

Particle pollution is especially damaging for those with lung or heart disease, children, and older adults.

How can you improve indoor air quality?

To avoid particle pollution in your home, check out 5 Ways To Naturally Improve Your Indoor Air Quality, The Best Indoor Air Quality Products On The Market, and 12 Easy Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality. Download our guide to improving indoor air quality by clicking below:

Click Here to Download the Guide

Topics: Indoor Air