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What's the difference between dust and particles

Update: 2019-11-07 15:51 Source: LUFTMY Reading: ↻ News

In the regulatory and compliance industries, the two terms I often hear are particulate matter (PM) and dust. Personally, I am a little confused about these two terms because they can be interchanged in some cases, but not in others. In this paper, the particle and dust are discussed and the differences between them are analyzed.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines particulate matter as a mixture of solid particles and droplets in the air. The EPA classifies particles into two categories, 10 microns and 2.5 microns. PM10 is defined as inhalable particles with a diameter less than 10 microns, and PM2.5 is defined as inhalable particles with a diameter less than 2.5 microns. For reference, a hair is about 70 microns, and the human eye can't see particles smaller than 40 microns.

Particles can be produced from many different sources, the most common being construction sites, unpaved roads, complex chemical reactions and chimneys. EPA strictly controls particulate matter, just like other standards, because it poses a threat to public health. PM10 can penetrate into the lungs and blood and can cause serious health problems. PM2.5 is the main cause of haze or reduced visibility.

Although the definition of PM is very clear, the definition of dust is more vague. Air quality professionals and those outside the air quality community can use them alternately, but they should not be replaced each other. All PM can be considered as dust, but not all dust can be considered as PM. Dust consists of particles of all sizes, but particles over 10 microns in diameter do not pose a significant health risk as they are not inhalable. However, they are more likely to be seen by the public.

It is not uncommon for management managers to receive pollution complaints because no PM monitor detects anything due to the dust visible around the plant. The two terms should not be used interchangeably, as one is regulated and the other is unregulated, complicating the issue, so it is important to understand the difference.

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