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Dust: Tiny particles, huge dangers

17 October 2019

Zehnder Clean Air Solutions considers the dangers posed by PM1 dust.

Dust particles or particulate matter (PM) are in the air all around us – sometimes we can see them, sometimes we can’t, and the smaller and less perceptible they are, the longer they can stay in the air. The longer they stay in the air, the more likely employees are to breathe them in. And when they are breathed in there can be serious consequences.

What are PM1 particles – and how do they affect employees?

The dust that gets into your lungs is called ‘respirable dust’. It includes all particles with a width between 1 and 2.5micrometres. These are known as PM1 and PM2.5. PM1 dust is particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of under 2.5 micrometres, and it’s potentially even more damaging than PM2.5, which we know as the typical fine dust and which had previously generated a lot more hype and more research.

PM1 particles come from sources such as combustible fossil fuels (oil, diesel, gas, coal, etc.), power plants and internal combustion engines – among other things – and are the most common pollutants you’ll find in a metropolitan or industrial setting. A recent study revealed that PM1 particles contributed to almost 80% of PM2.5 in most particulate matter observation stations in China. In addition to this, the study showed a correlation between ambient PM1 and PM2.5 and an increase in emergency hospital visits – with most of the adverse effects of PM2.5 coming from PM1. Ultimately, this means that PM1 particles should not be underestimated as they can cause more damage than PM2.5.

PM1 isn’t as widely monitored as PM2.5. But if you’re exposed to significant quantities of dust, you may be affected by it. Consequently, the longer you and your employees breathe it in, the worse the effects. Deep breathing pulls air pollutants faster and further into the lungs.
These effects can:

  •  include cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as fine particles produce oxidative stress on the human body and can penetrate tissues that larger particles can’t;
  •  negatively impact on brain function, as ultra-fine particles can access the blood circulation more easily when they’re deposited deep into the lungs, and more.

What does this mean for your business?

Beyond the human impact and the associated health issues, PM1 can lead to higher absenteeism, higher employee turnover, and lower productivity – all of which will affect your company in the long term. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent it from getting out of hand – and into your employees’ lungs.

Zehnder Clean Air Solutions tackles dust at source. The company reports that ts clean air systems have been proven to reduce dust particles by up to 90%, ensuring that it’s taken out of the air before employees have a chance to breathe it in.