The Problem with Nanosized Particles

We recently wrote on airborne pollution being one the most important causes of diseases, reduced lifetime and global deaths. The adverse health effects of particulate matter are often insidious as they do not necessarily appear immediately upon exposure but accumulate over time. For example, cardiovascular diseases are often addressed to dietary problems and other reasons yet the real cause may be prolonged exposure to nanosized particles (living in a high-traffic city center or an area of wood-heated houses).

Despite the fact that the health effects of ultra-fine particulate matter are well studied and reported by international health authorities, the risks are still not taken seriously enough.

One of the main problems in understanding the magnitude of the problem is related to terminology and standards. For example, air pollution concentration is typically measured as mass concentration, which emphasized the larger particles within PM2.5, with no mention of the portion of ultrafine particles. Ultrafine particles are ultrasmall, meaning they also weigh very little. This difference is important as the health effects of particulate matter is related to the extent of exposure – how many particles can enter the bloodstream and the organs.

The illustrate the difference, imagine two one-litre-volumes of air with a certain mass concentration – one that has 2.5 μm particles and another with 0.025 μm particles. Which volume has a larger number or particles? Obviously the one with smaller particles. For the same volume of breathing air with the total mass of particles, the probability of inhaling a single particle is 100 000 times bigger when the particles are 100 times smaller.

Another major problem is that people are made to believe they are safe in buildings with central ventilation and filtered air. This is unfortunately not the case. Ventilation standards rely on HEPA air filters, which are based on fiber filtration technology. HEPA filters can only catch particles 0.3 μm and larger in diameter, which is three times the size of the most dangerous particles (ultrafine particles, 0.1  μm and less). These nanosized particles can easily by-pass the filters and enter indoor air. Therefore more sophisticated air purification technology is needed to keep indoor air safe to breath.

Mobile air purifiers based on electric technology can be an efficient way to reduce the health risks of indoor air pollution. Genano air purifiers are so-called nanoscale air purifiers. This means that the technology can remove even the smallest particulate contaminants from indoor air down to nanometer size, which is a 1oo times better purification efficiency compared to HEPA filters in terms of particle size. Genano units are room-specific devices that work alongside of central ventilation and constantly circle and purify the air from contaminants of both indoor and outdoor origin, including mold spores and toxins, ultrafine particles and harmful gaseous substances.

Want to know more? Read more about