Clearing The Air: The Truth About Airborne Particle Pollution and Your Health
Lung Health Coarse, fine and ultrafine particles? Uncovering the hidden dangers of airborne particle pollution.
Home, sweet home, right? Where we live should be a safe place in which we can raise kids, entertain friends, and enjoy ourselves. But, there’s a hidden danger that poses a significant risk to your health — something we all need to be aware of.
From gas stoves to scented candles, airborne particle pollution can seriously impact your health and even shorten life spans. It’s a pressing issue that needs to be addressed. The good news is that educating yourself and making good choices for your family can curtail the impact of particle pollution on you and your family.
It’s important to note that not all particles are created equal. Government air quality agencies and researchers usually classify airborne particles into three categories: coarse, which includes pollen, mould spores, animal and plant debris; fine, such as dust and bacteria; and, ultrafine, which includes smoke, toxic gases, viruses, and all volatile organic compounds.
These ultrafine particles make up 90 percent of all airborne particles. They are generated in many ways, ranging from cooking to gases emitted by some types of flooring, furniture, and building/decorating supplies.
"These ultrafine particles make up 90 percent of all airborne particles. They are generated in many ways, ranging from cooking to gases emitted by some types of flooring, furniture, and building/decorating supplies."
The tinier the particles are, the more dangerous they are. Once inhaled, ultrafine particles are absorbed into the bloodstream, where they can penetrate bodily tissues and organs.
This can lead to a myriad of serious and potentially fatal complications. These include worsening of pulmonary conditions, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
Children and babies are especially vulnerable to the effects of ultrafine particle pollution. Asthma and allergies can worsen. Birth weights and cognitive function may also be impaired. Clearly, we need to ensure that the air we breathe is safer — but the question is how?
Improving air quality
The most common attempts to remove dangerous airborne particles have limited effectiveness. The use of air fresheners and scented candles actually increase the levels of air pollutants in your home.
They often contain high levels of toxic compounds, including phthalates, which are known to interfere with reproductive health — causing birth defects and disrupting normal hormone function in males.
Traditional high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) air purification technology falls short of what’s needed to protect health. These filters do not have the capacity to remove ultrafine particles. They are more effective at tackling coarse and fine particles, and allergens such as pet dander and pollen.
One viable solution is to choose an air purifier designed to filter the smallest particles. There are filtration systems available that have the ability to filter ultrafine particles down to 0.003 microns, which is the size of the average virus.
Use of these high-tech units and adopting air quality improvement practices for your home can help you breathe much easier and avoid potential health problems.