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Outdoor Air Quality
January 27, 2021
PM 2.5 (µg/m³)
Average 24-hour Retrospective
PM 2.5 ((µg/m³))
Unhealthy for Sensitive group
Unhealthy for Sensitive group
About the Air Pollution Measurement
WHAT is PM ?Credit : Environmental Protection Agency, United States of America
PM stands for particulate matter (also called particle pollution): the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye.
Particle pollution includes
PM 10 (µg/m 3 )
Particulate matter less than 10 micrometers (μm) – or 0.01 mm – in diameter
PM 2.5 (µg/m 3 )
Fine particulates less than 2.5 micrometers (μm) in diameter
How small are particulates?
The average human hair is about 70 μm in diameter, which is 30 times larger than the largest fine particle.
Size comparisons for PM particles (EPA. 2019)
Credit : https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/pm2.5_scale_graphic-color_2.jpg
Where does PM come from?
1. Emissions from cars and other vehicles
2. Burning of fuels and natural materials
3. Reactions of gases or droplets in the atmosphere
4. Particles carried by the wind from various sources
5. Natural events such as wildfires or volcanic eruptions
8. Burning items such as candles
9. Fireplaces and fuel-burning space heaters
Effects of PM
Particulates affect our health and bodies when we breathe. They can get deep into our lungs and even enter our bloodstream. The smaller they are, the more dangerous for our health. Children, older adults, and people with heart or lung diseases are most at risk from particle pollution. Studies show that exposure to particulates can cause health issues such as:
Health Effects (Environment Assured. 2019)
Credit : https://www.environment-assured.com/pm25/
The table below defines the particulate matter scale as defined by the US-EPA 2016 standard
|DISPLAY||PM 2.5 (µg/m 3 , 24-hour average)||PM 10 (µg/m 3 , 24-hour average)||HEALTH IMPLICATIONS|
|0.0 - 12.0||0 - 54||Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk|
|12.1 - 35.4||55 - 154||Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.|
|35.5 - 55.4||155 - 254||Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.|
|55.5 - 150.4||255 - 354||Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects|
|150.5 - 250.4||355 - 424||Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire populations is more likely to be affected.|
|250.5 - 500||425 - 605||Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects|
1. Air Quality Life Index. (2019). How Does Particulate Air Pollution Impact Health, Retrieved from https://aqli.epic.uchicago.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Size-Health-Diagram-1024x543.jpg
2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2019). Air Quality Index Scale and Color Legend, Retrieved from https://aqicn.org/scale/
3. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2018). Particulate Matter (PM) Basics, Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/pm-pollution/particulate-matter-pm-basics#PM
4. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2018). Particulate Matter (PM) Basics, Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/pm-pollution/health-and-environmental-effects-particulate-matter-pm
5. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2018). Particulate Matter (PM) Basics, Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/pm-pollution/health-and-environmental-effects-particulate-matter-pm
6. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2018). Size comparisons for PM particles, https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/pm2.5_scale_graphic-color_2.jpg
8. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2016). Revised Air Quality Standards for particle pollution and updates to the air quality index (AQI), Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-04/documents/2012_aqi_factsheet.pdf
9. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2016). AQI Technical Assistance Document, Retrieved from https://www3.epa.gov/airnow/aqi-technical-assistance-document-may2016.pdf
10. National Pollutant Inventory. (2019). Total Volatile Organic Compounds, Retrieved from http://www.npi.gov.au/resource/total-volatile-organic-compounds
11. U.S. Green Building Council. (2015). Maximum concentration levels, by contaminant and testing, Retrieved from https://www.usgbc.org/resources/table-1-maximum-concentration-levels-contaminant-and-testing
WHAT IS TVOC?
Total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) are a wide range of organic chemical compounds that easily become vapor or gas. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are harmful materials from solids and liquids.
Where do VOCs come from?
How do VOCs affect our health?
The health impact from VOCs depends on their composition and concentration and the length of exposure. General effects include:
The table below defines TVOC level defined by the by the US-EPA standard
|Normal||< 500 ppm|
1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2019). Overview of Greenhouse Gases. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases
2. Ritchie, Hannah; & Roser, Max. (2019). Overview of Greenhouse Gases. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions
3. Our World in Data. (2019). Global CO₂ atmospheric concentration. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/global-co-concentration-ppm
4. Kane. (2019). What are safe levels of CO and CO2 in rooms? Retrieved from https://www.kane.co.uk/knowledge-centre/what-are-safe-levels-of-co-and-co2-in-rooms
5. OnSolution. (2019).Levels of CO2 in closed spaces and the potential health effects that they may cause. Retrieved from https://www.co2monitor.com.au/
Carbon dioxide and climate change
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a naturally occurring molecule of carbon and oxygen produced by both natural and human processes. Burning anything, whether fossil fuels, waste, trees, or other biological materials, can release more CO2into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is important to our world. It helps keep the earth at a habitable temperature. But it is also a greenhouse gas (GHG) that can heat up the planet. Burning fossil fuels produces CO2emissions that can change the climate, with huge impacts on ecosystems.
Global atmospheric concentrations
Global average long-term atmospheric levels of CO₂ are increasing.
Credit : https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/global-co-concentration-ppm
Since the Industrial Revolution, global CO2 concentrations have risen fast. This vast increase has an impact on our environment. It affects temperatures and causes many issues such as global warming. Heat gets trapped inside the blanket of greenhouse gases and the earth grows warmer. A stronger greenhouse effect will warm the oceans, melt glaciers, and raise sea levels. Warmer climates can also bring heatwaves, violent rainfall, and storms.
Indoor air quality
Indoor CO2 levels depend on human metabolism and breathing. We gradually emit CO2 that can raise the concentration. Without enough ventilation, excessive indoor CO2 can affect human health, causing headaches, drowsiness, exhaustion, and breathing problems, according to the table below.
|Levels of CO 2(ppm)||Health Effects|
|350 - 450||The general level of health outdoor|
|450 - 700||Acceptable range|
|700 - 1000||Feeling uncomfortable|
|1000 - 2500||Feeling sleepy and poor air|
|2500 - 5000||Headaches, sleepiness and stagnant, stale, stuffy air, poor concentration, loss of attention, increased heart rate and slight nausea may also be present|