Air pollutants are a complex mixture of Particulate matter, microbial, and indoor/outdoor gases. Ambient and indoor air pollution account for approximately 7 million premature deaths every year. Air pollutants are also a major risk factor for respiratory diseases like TB, Asthma, Pneumonia, Bronchitis, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Emphysema, etc. These respiratory ailments are developed because of bad indoor air quality due to mold, fungus, microbes which are often neglected.
Deep research in the last few years has firmly established an interesting relationship between exposure to Particulate Matter (PM2.5) and cardiovascular disorders through the mechanism of atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and inflammation. Endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, coagulation, and lipid deposition are some of the common symptoms of heart-related disorders. Generally, the risk factors for a heart attack are assumed to be high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, etc. Particulate Matter (PM2.5)has been the new addition to the list.
Particulate Matter (PM 2.5), Source and why it has been dubbed the “silent killer”!
Particulate matter also known as suspended particulate matter (SPM) – is a microscopic particle of solid or liquid matter suspended in the air. Particulate matter size with an aerodynamic meter of less than 2.5 mm is a complex mixture and its major source is combustion like automobile exhaust, industrial emissions, indoor cooking activities, bush fires, etc. The chemical composition of PM2.5 includes water-soluble ions, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Volatile organic compounds, carbonaceous aerosols, etc. PM2.5 has the capability to travel deep inside our lungs, corrode and irritate the alveolar wall leading to impaired lung function. Gradually, impaired lung function results in a host of fatal respiratory diseases. Long-term exposure to ambient or indoor PM2.5 can have a deadly consequence.
PM2.5 is harmful not merely for our respiratory system. Long-term exposure to it can also affect cardiovascular health. An increase of 10 mg per meter in PM2.5 level is associated with a 76% increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in 4 years. The pollutant plays a major role in aggravating heart failure rate by causing lung oxidative stress, inflammation, and vascular remodeling.
In layman terms, continuous exposure to ambient or indoor PM2.5 can cause arterial stiffness with abnormal blood circulation leading to a higher probability of a heart attack and stroke.
Vascular dysfunction, endothelial injury associated with inflammation, and lipid deposition.
Endothelial cells act as a barrier between the blood vessel and the tissues. The cells are selectively permeable for specific chemicals and white blood cells to move from blood to tissue and vice versa. The integral endothelial cell layer is responsible for maintaining a complex functional balance to prevent the inflammatory response. Prolong exposure to PM2.5 causes deterioration of endothelial function, blood clotting, and systemic inflammation. As per solid evidence, an increase in the Particulate matter (PM2.5) concentration is associated with reduced blood flow inside blood vessels.
Similarly, exposure to high indoor PM2.5 levels can also cause endothelial dysfunction and inhibit blood vessel formation. Endothelial dysfunction assumes importance because it disrupts, anti-blood clot processes, vascular repair, and anti-inflammatory processes.
The 4 ways (hypothesis) through which the inhaled particulate matter can affect the cardiovascular system have been listed below.
- Once the Particulate matter (PM2.5) is inhaled, it reaches terminal bronchioles and enters alveoli triggering an inflammatory response in the lungs.
- Inflammatory and foreign mediators enter the blood circulation.
- A very small percentage of the mediators reach the actual circulation.
- Alveoli sensor receptors are activated leading to natural imbalance.
HEPA Filters for Removing Indoor PM 2.5 levels-
HEPA filters are pleated mechanical filters that remove at least 99.97% of dust, dander, smoke, pollen, bacteria, or any other pollutants with the size of 0.3 microns (mm). True HEPA filters generally range from H10-H12. These are the grades of HEPA or the level of efficiency. The higher the grade better is the filtration level. H10-H12 filters only capture 85-99.5% of all particles with a diameter of 0.1 microns and above. H13 and H14 (Medical grade quality) on the other hand can trap 99.95% and 99.995% of all particles with a diameter of 0.1 microns not offered by many companies in the market for the residential purifier segment. HEPA filter remains one of the most effective ways to combat the threat of indoor PM 2.5 levels.
O2Cure Air Purifier (Hulk, Elixir and Hybrid) with multi-stage stage filtration is capable of removing 99.99% of PM2.5 from the indoor air.
Ways for Removing PM 2.5 levels-
- Humidification: Dry Indoor air can be responsible for a higher rate of illness including the Flu and Covid-19. Dry air allows air pollutants including the dangerous PM2.5 to freely move around the indoor spaces. Humidifiers are a great way to increase the humidity of the indoor air and curb the pollutants level. The high moisture content in the air with the use of humidifiers allows the air pollutants to become heavier and settle down.
- Negative Ionization: The technology of negative ionization is not the new one. Modern air purifiers in-built HEPA filters or other low resistance air filters can release millions of anions into the atmosphere. Air pollutants (including PM2.5) that positively charge get attracted to the released anions and agglomerate together eventually settling down and improving the indoor air quality.
- Bipolar Ionization: Compared to other passive technologies like media filters, UV systems, electronic filters, and Photocatalytic oxidation, Bipolar ionization is an active air purification technology. In this air, ions are released to the occupied space through the existing air systems. Ions interact with the pollutants (including PM2.5) resulting in clean breathable air.
- Electronic Air Cleaner: This is an efficient and maintenance-free air cleaner that reduces air pollutants (including PM2.5). The cleaner consists of a washable aluminum air pre-filter followed by a washable Electrostatic precipitation section (consisting of Tungsten wire for ionizing and aluminum collector plates). Particulate matter (PM2.5) is ionized after passing through the high voltage ionizer. Positively charged particles will be absorbed on the collection plates under high voltage achieving the required purification. There is an option available for duct solutions also.
Note: Despite its many benefits, negative ionization is not suggested for residential applications as the amount of ozone released can be much higher than what is claimed for real-time situations.