Air quality and radiation

MEASURING INDOOR AND OUTDOOR AIR QUALITY AND RADIATION:

  • PARTICLE POLLUTION IN THE AIR (PARTICULATE MATTER) PM2.5 AND PM10
  • RADON GAS
  • VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUND (VOC) AND FORMALDEHYDE (CH2O)
  • CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2)
  • CARBON MONOXIDE (CO)
  • ALPHA, BETA AND GAMMA RADIATION

PARTICLE POLLUTION IN THE AIR (PARTICULATE MATTER) PM2.5 AND PM10

  • Measuring particle pollution in the air, Particulate Matter (PM), as small as 0.5 μm (micrometer). Typical values are: human hair 50-70 μm, pollen 10-50 μm, bacteria 3 μm and tobacco smoke 0.5 μm

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  • Using accurate measuring devices (evaluated by scientific researchers) purchased in the United States during my postdoctoral research
  • Used to evaluate the indoor and outdoor air quality, and the effectiveness of filters in ventilation and air conditioning systems, also filters for air purifiers
  • Particulate matter (PM) is the air pollution, produced in a great number of ways, that affects people’s health
  • It is very small and invisible, and floats through the air and we breathe it in with every breath we take
  • PM10 is particles between 2.5 and 10 microns (micrometers) in diameter (a human hair is about 50-70 micron in diameter). PM2.5 is particles smaller than 2.5 microns
  • The PM10 and PM2.5 measurements reported by The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refer to the total weight of the particle found (μg/m3)
  • PM2.5 is smaller and lighter and can stay in the air from hours to weeks and travel very long distances
  • This breath of air, along with the particles, travel into our respiratory system
  • PM2.5 can get down into the deepest portions of the lungs and remain there for a long time or pass into the blood stream because there is not an efficient way of removing them
  • The EPA reported “studies suggested small particles can leave the lung and travel through the blood to other organs, including the heart
  • The main effects may include: premature mortality, aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, aggravated asthma, acute respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function and increased myocardial infarction
  • People with heart or lung diseases, asthma, diabetes, are at an increased risk, because particles aggravate these diseases
  • Older people, Infants and children may be at greater risk

The following table shows the air quality according to the number of particles measured in thousands in a cubic meter of air (number of particles per 0.001 m3) of a size larger than 0.5 micrometers

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Measurements of particles larger than 2.5 micrometers and 0.5 micrometers (two periods) in a private home

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Experiment with fan adding a HEPA Carbon Filter for air purifier at home

The fan with the HEPA filter was turned on at 20:21, turns off at 21:20, the air quality goes from fair to good during that period and it is maintained for a longer time
The 0.5 micron particles are reduced to a third and the 2.5 micron particles are reduced to approximately a fifth

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Measurements for different types: offices, homes and car air conditioning

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RADON GAS

  • Measuring radon gas in basements
  • Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer for the general population
  • Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water
  • Air pressure inside homes is usually lower than pressure in the soil around home’s foundation.
  • Because of this difference in pressure, home acts like a vacuum, drawing radon in through foundation cracks and other openings
  • Radon is eight times heavier than air and it is concentrated at ground level
  • Ventilation helps to reduce radon, also radon reduction techniques are needed in some cases

VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUND (VOC) & FORMALDEHYDE (CH2O)

  • Measuring Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) and Formaldehyde (CH2O) concentrations to verify indoor air quality
  • Potential sources for VOCs include paints, adhesives, cigarette smoke, pesticides, personal care products, car exhaust, new furnishings, wall coverings, household cleansers, and cooking fuels. Chemicals include: Acetone, Ethylene Glycol, Formaldehyde, Xylene, 1,3‐butadiene, Tetrachloroethene, Hydrogen Sulfide, Ammonia, Toluene, Benzene, Methylene Chloride, Perchloroethylene, and MTBE

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CARBON DIOXIDE (C02)

  • Measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) levels
  • Each person produces approximately 1 kg of carbon dioxide per day when breathing out
  • Poor indoor air quality is considered unhealthy because it causes tiredness, loss of ability to concentrate, and even illness (ex. Sick Building Syndrome)
  • IAQ monitoring, especially on CO2 level and air ventilation is widely applied in public areas such as offices, classrooms, factories, hospitals and hotels
  • Recommendations for levels for Carbon Dioxide (CO2), expressed in parts per million (PPM) are:
    • 400 PPM: Normal outdoor ambient concentrations
    • 600 PPM: Normal value for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
    •> 1000 PPM: indicates inadequate ventilation. Complaints such as headaches, fatigue, and eye/throat irritation will be more widespread
  • It is very useful to measure CO2 and ventilate according to CO2 levels
  • It depends on the airtightness of the building (air infiltrations happened even in a closed building), exterior wind and number of persons. Levels of CO2 are lower in windy days
  • At home if there is only one person, probably not much ventilation is needed but the need for ventilation increase largely for two, three or more people
  • If everybody is leaving home in the morning, ventilation is not much needed, during the day natural ventilation will occur through the air leaks.
  • It is suggested to ventilate before going to sleep for people closing door when sleeping. 2500-3000 PPM is normally measured when waking up in the morning if door has been closed

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CARBON MONOXIDE (CO)

  • Measuring carbon monoxide (CO) levels
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, tasteless and odorless compound produced by incomplete combustion of carbon-containing materials
  • Elevated levels of CO can be dangerous to humans depending on the amount present and length of exposure
  • It is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it is virtually undetectable by humans without using detection technology
  • A carbon monoxide detector or CO detector is a device that detects the presence of the carbon monoxide (CO) gas in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

ALPHA, BETA AND GAMMA RADIATION

  • Measuring radiation in materials with the high-precision Inspector Alert from Medcom
  • Some materials used in the construction of buildings can emit radioactive emissions higher than those considered normal
  • The Inspector Alert is a health and safety instrument that is optimized to detect low levels of radiation
  • Measures alpha, beta and gamma radiation

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