Why does air particle size matters to indoor environment occupants?

Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, November 2019, Volume 2, #85

The mission of facility managers is like that of the immigration department tasked with the responsibilities of preventing intruders, especially the dangerous ones, into the country. A dangerous intruder can cause severe harm or disaster if the intruder gets to the core of the country. Immigration needs to understand the intruder and the potential ability to cause damage to develop and implement appropriate mitigation strategies.

Particles are generated through mechanical or molecular processes. The molecular process generates smaller particle sizes. The smaller the particle size, the further the particles can penetrate the human body. Chemical or biological toxic nature of particles generated makes them hazardous to occupants of the indoor environment. Elimination or reduction of sources of air pollution, the use of appropriate ventilation rate (with clean outdoor air), and air cleaning (filtration or air purification) are basic control measures for reducing the concentration of all particle sizes.

The effective adoption of the control measures will require facility managers to have a good understanding of factors that could contribute to indoor air pollution. These factors include ventilation and recirculation rate, outdoor and indoor sources, filtration and air purification, indoor materials, human presence and activities, environmental parameters – relative humidity, temperature, air movement, etc., and indoor air chemical reactions. Having appropriate monitoring tools will aid the sufficient understanding and analysis of the factors. Optical particle sizer is an example of instruments that can measure particle concentration across different particle sizes in real-time. The knowledge gained from an existing building will be useful in the design and construction of future buildings. Particle size matters to exposed persons both in the indoor and outdoor environments. The indoor environment is of particular concern because humans spend a significant amount of time in the indoor environment.

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Do you want to know more about this topic? Read Heyder et al. (1986), Karottki et al. (2015), and Nazaroff (2004) papers.


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