In recent years, the air quality has declined at an alarming rate. The amount of pollution released into the air through various combustions, industrial processes, and mining activities has deteriorated the situation even more. Most of the pollutants are not even visible and are way more harmful than others.
Pollution does not affect you in the open only. Rather it has been established, based on research that the air inside our homes is way more polluted than that outside the house. This could be easily understood by taking into account the dispersion principle; “the more the volume available, more the gases expand.
Most of these pollutants are suspended particles of solid matter in the air. These new findings have called in for new methods to measure the air quality. One of these methods is PM2.5. Here PM stands for particulate matter and 2.5 in the subscript stands for the size in microns.
PM2.5 can be defined as the particles per 2.5 million parts of gas, measuring less than or equal to 2.5 microns in diameter. Most of these particles cannot be eliminated using ordinary or common separation methods.
A major proportion of these pollutants are heavy metals and un-burnt residues from the smoke. These particles can penetrate through veins and arteries and clog blood vessels. On entering blood vessels these particles interact with bodily fluids and enzymes and inhibit there proper functioning.
How does PM2.5work?
PM2.5 isn’t any instrument or equipment rather a measuring index for the air quality. The number of particles measuring not more than 2.5 microns in size per 2.5 million particles of air gives the PM2.5 rating for the air quality. There are various instruments that measure the air quality index (AQI) available in the market.
Most of these pollutants are due to emissions of incompletely burnt fuels from automobiles, the un-checked release of smoke from chimneys by a large number of industries, mining activities, and construction activities.
What are the effects of PM2.5 particles?
PM2.5 particles are considered the most dangerous pollutants as of now. Some particles do not pose any threat to the humans but some affect adversely even if detected in traces. Some of the adverse effects that these particles threaten us with are:
· They are carcinogenic
· These particles inhibit the functioning of organ systems
· Causes itchiness and burning sensation in eyes
· Decrease visibility
· Breathing ailments
· Premature deliveries
· Climatic changes
· Contribution to global warming
These particles, as said earlier, can easily enter the bloodstream without being filtered out by lungs. After entering the blood, these pollutants mainly the heavy metals in the body join with the hemoglobin molecules and therefore decrease the oxygen supply in the body. Also, there are chronic effects like nausea, indigestion, joint pains, and memory loss.
Categorization of Air Quality Index:
There are five categories the air quality could be ranked into:
· Green: The AQI is good and satisfactory for breathing. No adverse effects can be observed.
· Yellow: The air quality is acceptable but there may begin some health issues with the people already suffering from lung diseases.
· Orange: This category is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.
· Red: The general public may report some serious health issues. People already suffering from breathing ailments may face serious problems.
· Purple: This stage is very unhealthy. Infants, old aged and weaker people are affected worst.
· Maroon: This is considered a hazardous situation. All the population faces serious health issues.
Using different filters where the conditions are worst is one way out. There are a number of filters available in the market with varying filtering efficiency. There are special filters available in the market specifically stating removal of PM2.5 particles. There are textile filters which can filter out up to 90% of the PM2.5 particles from the air. Then there are electrostatic filters which operate by charging these particles electrically and separating them.
Some of the filters are listed below:
· Textile based filters: Most common of these filters are made by combining felts with gradually decreasing pore size. Thus offering the cheapest solution to the problem. But these need to be replaced from time to time.
· Electrostatic filters: These filters are most commonly used by industries and make use of electrical principles for filtration.
· UV filters: These make use of the UV rays found in sunlight to filter out organic matter and kill any pathogens in the air.
· Mist Filters: A stream of a mixture of special fluids is used to trap the suspended particles in the air and separate them. On spraying the liquid turns into mist and clings with the particles making them heavier and thus settle down and separate.
There are many other filters available out in the market depending upon the application.
As commonly quoted, prevention is the best cure. Preventing the release of such harmful particles into the air is the best solution. The most harmful of the pollutants are the particulate matter and ground-level ozone. Controlling these could be a step to prevent the occurrence of such situations. Following are some of the possible solutions that could help:
· Replacing the current energy sources with the cleaner renewable energy sources.
· Checking onto the composition of exhausts being released into the air.
· Using filters at the very source of these particles.
· Use of filter masks in regions with high pollution.
As the situation is getting worse day by day, there is a dire need to implicate new and innovative ideas to resolve this problem. Modern lifestyle has called up for higher energy harvesting and cutting onto energy mining isn’t the solution. The only solution left out is to use clean energy and a little change in lifestyle, to help reduce the pollution and save you and your loved ones from any air-borne diseases.