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Breathable Workspaces: Understanding PM 2.5 and PM10 Pollution, Knowing Safety Limits, and Implementing Solutions for Worker Health

Today, air pollution is a very sensitive subject for everyone. In every country, cities, and now small villages, are also affected by air pollution due to various pollutants. PM2.5 and PM10 are two of the major pollutants. In industrial environments, PM2.5 and PM10 are present due to various industrial processes. In this article, we are discussing PM2.5 and PM10 as pollutants, their impact on industrial workers, safety and solutions to overcome pollution from them, and government norms and regulations about PM2.5 and PM10 in an industrial context.

What are PM 2.5 and PM 10?

Particulate matter (PM) is a fine, microscopic matter suspended in air or water. PM2.5 and PM10 are the two types of particulate matter.

What is PM2.5?

Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 is a very small particulate matter with a microscopic size of 2.5 or smaller.

What is PM10?

Particulate Matter (PM) 10 is a small particulate matter with a diameter of a microscopic size of 10 or smaller.

PM2.5 and PM10 as pollutants

PM2.5 and PM10 are small particulate matter that is totally microscopic, so they are inhaled by humans.

PM2.5 Sources

Natural Sources:

>> Forest Fires
>> Volcanic Eruptions
>> Earthquakes

Artificial Sources

Industrial Sources :

Industrial sources include paper pulp industries, oil refineries, brick kilns, power plants, municipal waste treatment plants, industrial fossil fuel burning, and gasoline sources such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

Household Sources :

>> Construction Sites
>> Smoking
>> Cooking, Frying, and Not Maintaining Kitchen Chimneys
>> Wood Burning
>> Biomass Burning


>> Emissions from Vehicles

PM10 Sources :

There are various sources of PM10 pollution.
The natural sources include sea salt, dust, etc., whereas man-made sources are as follows:
  • smoke, dust, and dirt from unsealed roads, construction, landfills, and agriculture

  • pollen

  • mold

  • smoke from wildfires and waste burning

Industrial Sources

>> materials handling
>> crushing and grinding operations
>> power generation

In the home, PM10 comes from many sources, some of which are as follows:

>> outdoor sources leaking in through spaces around doors and windows

>> stoves

>> space heaters

Apart from these sources, some of the industrial processes also produce PM2.5 and PM10.

Welding :

Welding is a general process that is carried out in most manufacturing industries. During the welding process, PM2.5 and PM10 are generated when hot metal vaporizes, cools, and condenses into small, solid metal particles. Welding aerosols can be coarse (PM 2.5–10) or fine (PM 0.1–2.5). Welding produces visible smoke that contains harmful metal fumes and gas by-products. Welding workers are exposed to significant amounts of the metal fume PM2.5 during the welding process.

Plasma Cutting-

Plasma cutting generates the highest concentrations of PM2.5. Most aerosols generated during plasma arc cutting are PM 2.5. The fumes and gases generated by plasma cutting depend on whether the cutting is dry or wet.

Some of the other processes are also responsible for PM2.5 and PM10 generation, like diesel exhaust.

Health Effects of PM 2.5 and PM 10.

Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 and 10 have very serious health effects on humans, mainly those who are most in contact with them. In industries, these pollutants are generated from various industrial processes such as welding, brazing, cutting, etc. So the adverse health effects of these pollutants are as follows:.

Short-term health effects of PM10 can include:

>> Difficulty breathing
>> Coughing
>> Eye, Nose, and Throat Irritation
>> Chest tightness and pain
>> Fatigue
>> General Respiratory Discomfort

Long-term exposure to PM10 can cause more serious health concerns, such as:

>> Lung tissue damage
>> Asthma
>> Heart Failure
>> Cancer
>> Adverse birth outcomes
>> Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
>> Premature death

Health Effects of PM2.5

>> Short-Term Health Effects of PM 2.5
>> Irritation of the throat and airways
>> Coughing
>> Breathing Difficulty

Long-Term Health Effects of PM 2.5

>> Heart and lung disease
>> Bronchitis
>> Emphysema
>> Nonfatal heart attacks
>> Irregular heartbeat
>> Asthma and more intense flare-ups
>> Decreased lung function
>> Early death

Safe Limits for PM 2.5 and PM 10.

There are two types of absorption limits for PM 2.5 and PM 10, as follows:

>> General (Ambient Air) Absorption Limits for PM2.5 and PM 10
>> Industrial Processing Absorption Limits for PM2.5 and PM 10

General (Ambient Air) Absorption Limits for PM2.5 and PM 10

As per CPCB India’s Central Pollution Control Board’s norms, the general (ambient air) absorption limits of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are as follows:

Industrial Process Absorption Limits for PM 2.5 and PM 10.

The industrial process absorption limits for PM2.5 and PM10 as per OSHA standards are as follows:

Solutions to PM 2.5 and 10 in the Industrial Environment

Many countries seek to reduce PM2.5 and PM10 air pollution. For example, in 2019, India joined the United Nations Climate and Clean Air Coalition with the stated goal of reducing particulate matter pollution by 20 to 30 percent by 2024. The country launched the National Clean Air Program in mid-2019.

Solutions on PM 2.5 and PM 10 for Industries

Use Eco-Friendly Process Materials: Industries must use eco-friendly process materials for their processes, such as in welding, where we must use water-based fluxes or electrode coatings, which can reduce the environmental impact of welding. These materials help reduce the fumes generated and waste produced during the welding process.

Use Industrial Air Filtration Systems: Industrial air filtration systems such as welding fume extractors, oil mist collectors, laser marking fume extractors, soldering fume extractors, and dust collectors must be used for air filtration in an industrial work environment to reduce the impact on workers of PM 2.5 and PM 10.

Use Monitors for Measurement of PM2.5 and PM10 Pollution in Industries: Use PM2.5 and PM10 monitors for measurement of the severity of workers health.

Use PPE Equipment While Working: Use personal protective equipment like masks, helmets, hand gloves, and PPE attire while working to reduce PM 2.5 and PM 10 exposure.

Reduce Burning Fossil Fuels: Reducing fossil fuel use and switching over to renewable energy sources can reduce the exposure to PM2.5 and PM10 in industries because the burning of fuels is a major source of PM2.5 and PM10 pollution.

Reducing the use of wood burning: reducing the burning of wood is the best solution to reducing PM2.5 and PM10 pollution.

Filter On India has been working towards “Mission Zero Pollution” for the last 40+ years as a clean air solutions partner for industries. Filter On has 70+ clean air solutions, so you can contact us for more information about our solutions. You can reach us through the web or visit us at Pune, Delhi, Bangalore, or Chennai locations.