Particulates in Our Environment
“Particulate” is a general name given to a tiny solid or liquid particle or piece of matter. It usually refers to particles in the air (airborne particulates). Natural sources include soil, plants, fires, and road dust. Human-made sources include:
Fumes from combustion processes and products — such as tobacco smoke, car exhaust, power plants, wood stoves, oil burners, or other heating systems. Burning candles or oil in lanterns can also be sources of particulates.
Dust from mechanical processes — such as grinding or sweeping — and common household dust that may include mold, pollen, and small insect parts. Fibrous building material such as fiberglass may also be a source of particulates.
Mist — such as that caused by spray painting.
In general, the smaller and lighter a particulate is, the longer it will stay in the air. A fairly dense particulates — such as lead dust —a re likely to stay in the air for a shorter period of time than other particulates. Some particulates — such as certain types of fibers or pollen — may stay in the air for very long periods of time, especially if there is air movement caused by occupants, pets, open windows, fans, office equipment, vacuum cleaners, etc.
If you have questions about a specific product, contact the makers of filters and equipment such as vacuums, respirators, air cleaners, dehumidifiers, and HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems.