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Getting Particular About Particulate Matter

If you have done any research into indoor air quality, you might have come upon the term Particulate Matter (PM). No it is not the stuff that runs the hyper drive of the spaceship in the latest sci-fi thriller. It is defined as “the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in air, many of which are hazardous. This complex mixture contains for instance dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets.¹” With that definition, we might prefer the spaceship thing.

Unfortunately our living environment is filled with particulate matter but there are a few things we can do to reduce its impact on us. Basically there are two types of Particulate Matter  naturally occurring (pollen for instance) and man made (like smoke from cooking). Particulate Matter is measured in microns. One micron is one millionth of a meter. A human hair is about 60 microns. A good strategy against Particulate Matter is Identify, Avoid, and Reduce.

The first thing you need to do is identify where the Particulate Matter is coming from. Some are simple to identify such as smoking. Without having to make a public health announcement, I think we can all agree that smoking is not “good” for our health. Some other sources are not as noticeable. Did you know that your kitchen is one of the larges sources for Particulate Matter in you home? During the cooking process, Particulate Matter is released in the form of smoke, grease, and gas (for gas cook tops). If not contained, these pollutants can go right into the air you are breathing.

Once you can identify the sources, avoid them as much as you can. Now we are not suggesting that you should lock yourself in an airtight chamber from spring until fall because there might be pollen in the air, just look for some things you might be able to avoid in your everyday life. When we can’t avoid them, we should look to reduce them.

A big way to reduce Particulate Matter is through filtration. Going back to the kitchen, the easiest and most effective way to reduce Particulate Matter in the home is through a range hood that exhausts to the outside. This takes the Particulate Matter directly out of the living environment before it can be breathed in. Another way is to filter air coming into the home. Many new homes now have some type of outdoor air device installed that brings fresh air from the outside into the home to exchange with the stale air in the home (like the Air King QFAM). These devices can be fitted with air filters (like on your HVAC system) that can filter out microns down to 2.5.

Make sure to browse through the other pages on this site to learn more about kitchen range hoods, fresh air filtration and the codes that are currently in place for reducing Particulate Matter.

¹ source:

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