Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Mega Guide

In this article, you will find information about everything related to particulate matter. I will focus on PM2.5 as I believe it is the most universal indicator of air quality. Almost all scientific studies concentrate their attention to PM2.5 because there is a substantial availability of monitors/sensors. Some extracts were taken from my book See The Air – PROOF THAT AIR POLLUTION KILLS.

1) What is PM2.5?

Scientific explanation: PM2.5 is a mass concentration on basis of a separation curve, where the 50% value is at 2.5μm aerodynamic diameter. More precisely, the weighting function is much steeper (100% weighting <0.5μm, to 0% weighting> 3.5μm and 50% weighting at approximately 2.5μm). PM2.5 pollution can only be seen with an electron microscope.

Plain English explanation: PM2.5 referees to fine particles with a size of or less than 2.5μm (aka micron). By the way, soot, aerosols, dust, BC are other common terms to call particle pollution.

2) What is PM2.5 made of?

It is hard to determine a specific chemical composition, however, here is a list of all the chemicals that might be found in a single particle. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (naphthalene, acenaphthylene acenaphthene, fluorene, phenanthrene, anthracene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, benzo(a) pyrene, dibenzo(a,h)anthracene, benzo(g,h,i)perylene, and indene), metals (Al, Si, P, S, CI, K, Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Pb, Ca), others.

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Tobacco has a Tremendous Impact on the Environment, Climate and our Health. How can you break free?

As a child of heavily smoking parents, I always hated tobacco. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t have an understanding of the impact tobacco had on their health when I was a child. Secondhand some also had an impact on my health, but can you blame someone that didn’t understand that smoke is smoke. A toxic combination of tiny particles and chemicals that will alter and break your DNA. Also, the mentality in Mediterranean and Balkan countries is still to this day different from the rest of the world. Some people still believe it is an enjoyable habit to smoke while taking a coffee or after a meal.

It took a great effort to teach my parents that smoking is not good for anyone. At the end, they saw plenty of examples among the family members that died due to this harmful habit, and they gave it up.

For most of us that have visited a beach, we have found a tremendous amount of cigarette butts in the sand. A disgusting habit that authorities must penalize because it is not only aesthetically unpleasing but is also harmful to the marine life and the food we end up eating.

Cigarette butts (filters or ends), the part that looks like white “cotton”, are actually made of plastic fibers. When this plastic is tossed into the environment, it leaches toxic chemicals, and it can take up to 10 years to decompose. We talk about roughly 4.5 trillion cigarettes butts each year with only an estimated third of which make it into the bins. The rest end up in the ocean, streets, and out of a window.

CO2 emissions are also beyond our capabilities to conceptualize big numbers. Here is an analogy to help us understand better the numbers. According to WHO, 84 million tonnes of CO2 are released into the atmosphere from tobacco production which is equal to 280,000 rocket launches to outer space.

According to Surgeon General’s Report, in the US alone, 2.5 million non-smokers adults died because they’ve breathed secondhand smoke since 1964. Worldwide, each year 1.2 million non-smokers die because they breathe secondhand smoke and ∼7 million smokers from direct smoke. Many diseases and health problems are linked to smoking and secondhand smoke. The most common are lung, liver, and colorectal cancer, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), and diabetes disease.

In this blog, I talk a lot about particulate matter (PM) with aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 μm or less aka PM2.5, and how dangerous it is to human health. Well, cigarette smoke also contains these fine particles which can reach deep inside your lungs and be transported even to your brain. In a 2018 study, researchers found that there was a massive increase in PM amount by smoking cigarettes in indoor spaces. Reachers measured clean air (1.6 µg/m³) and then they lighted a cigarette where they measured concentrations of 1800 µg/m³ and up to about 3070 µg/m³ depending on the additives and tar amount in the cigarettes.

You will find plenty of suggestions on how to stop that harmful habit in the internet. However, from my parents’ experience and what I see from people around me that have succeeded in breaking the habit of smoking only one thing really works. Owning the decision you have made. Many call it will power, but I call it knowing what you want.

I can give you a million reasons to stop smoking with real scientific data and fancy numbers, but at the end of the day it comes to how much you value yourself and if you want to be healthy or sick.

What is a Healthy Building? Why Indoor Air Quality is the Key?

Don’t be fooled, even the most outdoorsy person spends a great deal indoors. Apart from the fact that we spend a lot of time indoors because we are safe from the elements and other external threats, indoor environments are designed to meet other occupants’ needs like resting, being productive, or even having fun. A rule of thumb is to take your age and multiply it by 0.9. Vualá, that’s the time you have spent indoors so far.

Nowadays buildings are fully equipped with all sorts of things in an effort to make occupants’ life better, healthier, or even more creative. If we take as an example a modern house, we will find modern gym equipment, connected lights to create an atmosphere, smart vacuum cleaners, etc. If we take as an example an office building, we will find automation in the entrance with automated doors, fire alarms, elevators, etc.

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Review: Mila Air Purifier by Mila Cares

Indoor air purification made affordable!? If you see the competition out there, you will notice that some air purifiers are crazy expensive. Sometimes justified, but most of the time not so much. The problem is that in a modern household we want smart devices that will manage stuff for us automatically and intelligently. Here comes Mila Air, an air purifier for the modern ages in an affordable package.

Mila Air by Mila Cares uses proven techniques to remove air pollutants from your indoor environment such as filters with HEPA H12 or H13 or H14, among others. You choose which one is the best for you. There are many other filter combinations that are ingenuously described by the company in order to make the product more accessible to the everyday folks that want to improve indoor air quality and aren’t experts in the field.

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Los Libros de Nicholas ahora están disponible en Español – Nicholas’ books are available in Spanish

Los libros de Nicholas ahora están disponible en Español gracias a la colaboración con el Instituto Universitario de Medio Ambiente y Grupo de investigación Química Analítica Aplicada de la Universidade da Coruña. 

La educación ambiental de los niños es muy importante para poder promover la conciencia ecológica y el cuidado del ambiente en la ciudadanía. El aire puro que necesitamos para respirar y vivir es un derecho humano. La ONU calcula que aproximadamente 7 millones de personas mueren cada año de forma prematura debido a la contaminación del aire. Ademas un 90% de la población mundial respira aire contaminado.

Los libros van a estar disponibles en varias bibliotecas en Galicia (España) pero también están disponible en Amazon.

OPEN Ambient Air Quality DATA

There is some serious competition in the market of environmental monitoring and particularly in air quality. There are a lot of ambient air quality monitors available with great features and great sensors, the problem is that society doesn’t benefit from the variability of monitors because AQ data are scattered in different platforms/maps. It is hard for end-users and citizens to find which monitor is active and where (especially if you move). Someone needs to gather low-cost AQ data from everywhere and offer it to users in easy service.

Last year, on my trip across Europe, I monitored air quality with a portable monitor, but I wanted to compare the data I got against the official or other low-cost monitors out there. It was impossible!

The openaq team is doing just that. They are gathering data from official and low-cost sensors (stationary and mobile). Unfortunately, even today I cannot access data from specific low-cost monitors that take advantage of the API and their open map.

This are the brands that collaborate and they provide data to openaq:

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Spring Is Around the Corner & Allergies too

I love spring as it marks the return of warm weather, outdoor activities, the blossom of flowers, and life in general. However, pollen becomes abundant everywhere there are plants and trees, as a result, the flare of allergy-related health issues too. I am allergic to some kind of pollen and although I can manage it without medication, some people are suffering to a greater extend and they need better ways to mitigate pollen out of their immediate environment.

Unfortunately, on earth, there are only a few special Air Quality monitors that can measure and classify pollen. Satellites also track the progress of pollen but do you know where to find this kind of information? I bet no, for this reason, I will tell you in a bit.

Remember, the first step is always quantifying the pollutants/allergens (pollen in this case) before mitigating them from indoor spaces. The reason is simple, once we have the proper information, we can take better decisions. For example, should I exercise outdoors today or go outside for some errands or is this the right moment to ventilate my house?

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Office Study – Tapping Into The Real World Air Quality Data

Nowadays, it is a privilege to have access to a real indoor environment where you can measure and quantify indoor environmental quality (IEQ). It is not an easy task because most companies keep AQ data private, and we totally respect that. However, sometimes tapping into the real world data is fundamental in order to understand the conditions white color employees and employers work in an effort to improve work conditions and productivity.

The owner of the building and the office granted me access to installing the Atmocube IAQ monitor for two months, in order to figure out what improvements shall apply in their effort to mitigate covid19, improve working conditions and boost productivity. The office is located in Almeria, Spain which is a coastal city.

They don’t have any mechanical ventilation systems, so the indoor conditions were subject to their human actions and whether they opened the windows/doors or not.

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Review: SODAQ AIR – An Air Quality Monitor for Your Bike/Your Lungs

More and more people choose to ride a bike for their daily commutes and although SODAQ AIR is not the first air quality monitor for a bike, it is the first to have collected over 20M data points. This is particularly import for the development of an IoT air quality monitor as the developers have enough information to debug and develop a super stable product that needs very little troubleshooting from its users.

SODAQ is not a new company as it was founded back in 2013, and they have been working on this particular project (SODAQ AIR) alone since 2015. It seems that consumer satisfaction is always their priority, which is very important nowadays as we need sustainable products that will last for a long time.

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Review: Atmocube Air Quality Monitor by ATMO

The need for indoor air quality monitoring solutions hasn’t stopped increasing due to two main factors. The market is constantly demanding tailored solutions to meet Green Building standards and, of course, Covid19. Many have bought cheap and generic indoor AQ monitors from big retail stores, but after a while, they realized that their money went down the drain as there is nothing they can do with the data they obtained for two reasons. The AQ monitors didn’t keep the measurements or the accuracy of the data was poor.

Here comes Atmocube, a new indoor air quality monitor designed entirely to meet occupants’ requirements for indoor air quality. The design language is modern and functional. I underlined functional because you don’t need to be an expert to understand what is wrong with the IAQ and which specific parameter you need to address, I will explain more about it in a minute. Finally, the monitor is full of superb sensors, nine to be exact.

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