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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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: 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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High-End Professional vs Low-Cost Professional Ambient Air Quality Monitors

In the space of ambient air quality monitoring, there are two basic and distinctive categories of professional air quality monitors; the High-End Professional and Low-Cost Professional monitors. I have been asked multiple times to recommend monitors for scientific studies and the deployment of them in cities.

It is very important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both categories. It is also mandatory to recognize the fact that we will never get the exact same measurement from either category of sensors.

High-End Professional AQA

High-End Professional ambient air quality analyzers are used mostly by governments inside the air quality stations we have in most cities. Their strength is that they meet international standards for accuracy and they are certified by the EU (and similar bodies) to meet minimum performance requirements, in order to ensure that the measurement methods comply with the Data Quality Objectives set down in the Ambient Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC) and in the amending Directive (EU) 2015/1480. Their weakness is that they require lots of energy to operate. In most cases, they are inside a fixed container with a refrigeration system to keep conditions stable. They are big and boxy in size and very expensive to purchase and operate. Additionally, they need constant maintenance by a technician. Another weakness is that in most cases these analyzers are not smart enough to broadcast measurement in real-time to the Cloud and they require other pieces of equipment to do that job, as a result, the cost of operation increases.

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Particly NFT & Blockchain Air Quality Awareness

In December 2021, I introduced Particly, a mascot which I will use as a tool to educate people about air pollution through social media. What you don’t know is that Particly is available as an NFT art and collectible since then. A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger. NFTs can be associated with easily-reproducible items such as photos, videos, 3D models, audio, and other types of digital files as unique items. Air Quality deserves a place in the WEB3 Metaverse in an effort to raise awareness.

For those who know me, I always look ahead in time in my effort to find different ways to embrace awareness and engage people. I love new challenges.

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2021: Year in Review – See The Air

One more year has passed, one more orbit around the Sun, but still in many places of the world air pollution remains the number one threat for the health of the dwellers and the stability of the ecosystem. The political unwillingness to address air pollution and lots of green-washing from companies haven’t alleviated the situation anywhere. Sad, but even the COP26 was a bit of a fiasco as the leaders of this planet and the majority of the population are still trying to process the information of climate change and air pollution. Apparently, the world doesn’t want to sacrifice convince over the quality of life and life expectancy.

Megalomania and individualism are tearing the ecosystem apart and polarizing the society into left or right, pro-climate or anti-climate, pro-clean air (anapneism), or burn as much fossil fuel, waste and wood as possible. Plastic pollution is another big issue as well.

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Review: Amazon Air Quality Monitor | Worth it?

Amazon, the big and multinational technology company which focuses on e-commerce has decided to enter into the game of indoor air quality in a rather surprising way. I will explain why in a minute.

In November 2021, Amazon announced that they will build and sell an air quality monitor. I was the first to discover that the monitor will feature the brand new SEN54 Node by Sensirion which is an all-in-one sensor solution for the measurement of particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), humidity, and temperature. Amazon offered a great deal to Sensirion because the Node isn’t available to others yet. 

By the way, back in 2018, I contacted Amazon for the development of an Indoor Air Quality Monitor, but they weren’t aware of the Indoor AQ situation then, however, in the pandemic they grasped the business opportunity. Indoor AQ is a huge deal and even though they didn’t collaborate with me (no hard feelings).

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Outdoor Air Quality Monitors 2021Q4

What’s new? Well, lots of new Outdoor Air Quality Monitors have been released into the market for various purposes and different budgets. Air quality monitors for professional use in cities and industrial sites and homeowners who want to supervise the ambient air quality outside their houses/apartments.

This time, I have included the General Star Score from the AIRLAB Challenge 2021 for the monitors that took part. The Ethera NEMo Outdoor monitor scored the highest with 4.5 Stars out of 5.

uRADMonitor with the Smoggie and City models scored 4/5 and 3.5/5, respectably. Also the Kunak Air Pro which I will review soon scored 4/5. It is great to see that all these solutions deliver accurate results.

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Review: IKEA VINDRIKTNING Air Quality Monitor

In 2021, IKEA made available an indoor air quality monitor, which is very very affordable. I bought one because I was curious to answer some basic questions like how did they manage to build and sell a particulate matter sensor that costs only 14€ or US$12 but also how smart and reliable is it in relation to other monitors.

IKEA is obsessed with naming all their products with Swedish words, so the AQ monitor VINDRIKTNING (which I can’t pronounce) translates as Wind Direction. Obviously, they don’t aim to create names memorable to people’s minds.

Let me share a story with you. Long before covid19 (2018 if I remember well) I and a company I worked for, decided to pitch IKEA into building an AQ monitor as I saw their interest in air quality because they designed some photocatalyst curtains that neutralized VOCs back then. Unfortunately, they turned us down, but I think we planted a seed into them. Long story short in 2021 they released the VINDRIKTNING.

Specifications

  • Particulate Matter Sensor Cubic Sensor PM1006K
  • 1 Green / 1 Yellow / 1 Red LED
  • USB-C connector
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