Purest Air Click here to return to breathe-easier.com's Home page.Click here to get an Overview of Indoor Air Quality Issues.Click here to find out the Services Pro-active Environmental Technologies offers.Click here to explore the Best Available Today's Technologies Solutions from Pro-active Environmental Technologies.About Us Contact us
The Best Botanical Cleaning Solutions



Part 3 – What We Don’t Know
but Should Know

about the Air We Breathe –

D. What Are We Breathing?
1. Particulates


1. Particulates.

Breathable Particulates
"A magnified view of aerosol particles collected in the industrial city of Port Talbot, England. Many of the particles measure roughly 2.5 microns across, small enough to easily enter and damage human lungs." (Courtesy of NASA/MRC Institute for Environment and Health)

Anything floating in or wafted about in the air small enough to enter our breathing apparatus comes under this broad category. Generally speaking, most of the particles are too small to be seen by the unaided eye. Some, however, can be detected if they are in sufficient quantity and/or under direct illumination to make them visible.

Particulates include, but are not necessarily limited to,

Magnified particulates
airborne dirt
It's everywhere we go in our vehicles, buildings and houses. Picture the grit that you find in your vacuum cleaner bag on the linings of your lungs. It's enough to make you choke. Literally.)

ash and combustion products; (These particles can come from tobacco products, forest fires, commercial and industrial furnaces and smokestacks, incinerators of all kinds (including crematories), volcanic eruptions, fireplaces, etc., every where there is flame, extreme heat, or burning in some fashion or another.)

dander; This is comprised of dead skin cells from animals and people. The average adult sheds about 80,000 skin cells an hour! However, it is pet dander which is largely to blame for most people's allergies to dogs and cats.)
dust, including powdered stone and other minerals such as gypsum (drywall), confectioners' sugar, flour, powdered talc, other minerals, and coal;

dust mites and other microscopic parasites and their feces, etc., (We are definitely not alone! These are the critters who feed on all those skin cells we are forever flaking off. And they are not really particular when it comes to their toilet habits.)

feathers and feather pieces; (Whether or not you like birds, the closer you are in proximity to them, the greater the likelihood that parts of what helps them fly will be flying into your airways.)

(These can be a number of different types from a diversity of origins, as in mineral fibers -- such as asbestos and fiberglass); natural textile fibers -- as in cotton, linen, silk, wool, etc.; synthetic textile fibers -- carpet and all manner of other indoor sources; and other organic fibers, such as paper and cardboard.)

fingernail filings;  (While you might expect these in abundance in nail salons -- and you would be right, they are everywhere manicures and pedicures are performed.  Even in your own home.)

food crumbs; (Alright, they are for eating, but over a life time more get into your body through your breathing passages than you would ever care to imagine. Did you remember to include them on your calorie counter?)

glass particles (other than fiberglass); (We've heard about living in glass houses.  Did we ever expect that parts of glass houses would be living in us?)

glue; (It's the stuff that helps hold things together.  Have you ever wondered how well it sticks to the linings of our air passages?)

graphite, carbon, and other finely ground powders, etc.; (While it does not write on the walls of our airways, it certainly can line and coat the walls of our breathing passages.)

hair, animal and human – includes fur; (Ever wonder what happens to all that hair we lose?  Maybe we want to check in our lungs and airways.)

insect fragments
-- actual pieces of body parts, feces, etc.; (They are interesting to observe and identify under magnification. It's disgusting to realize we take that sort of material into our lungs.)

metal shavings and dust; (These come from manufacturing and milling activities, grinding, drilling, shaping, sanding, or even from any friction causing motion involving metallic components -- like fans, motors, or other rotating devices. They are sometimes called "fines" and "ultrafines".  Some, as in lead, are dangerous on their own. But at all times all metal fines are to be considered extremely hazardous to the health of anyone who has to breathe where they are in the air.)

mold and other spores, enzymes, and colony particles; These are nasty not just for their accumulation and air clogging characteristics. Wait till you find out what they can do in the warm, dark, moist environement of your airways!)

oil soot -- from kerosene lanterns, and scented oil lamps and burners, and many types of candles; (We've seen what this is like on the insides of hurricane lamps.  Imagine that on the inside of your lungs or bronchia.)

paint chips and dust; (As the elements age even interior paints, they all deteriorate and begin letting loose in fine particulate form. You've seen aging paint rub off on your hands or clothes. You don't see when those microscopic elements turn loose of their application surfaces and enter the air stream where they can eventually coat your breathing apparatus.)

plant parts; (These can be any portion of one or more parts of any type of vegetable matter. They can also include grain dust and flour from grain storage and milling.)

pollen (all sources); (Each plant’s pollen looks different from
others’, but a common shared feature is their cocklebur-like appearance, a characteristic not lost on the sensitive linings of the brachia and lungs.)

polymer foam particles; (From the plethora of foam products and by-products using various forms of polystyrene ["Styrofoam"TM] for packaging, insulation, and many other end uses to the cross-section of urethanes, polyisocyanurates, and others used for building insulation of all types, we wind up with a heavier than we can imagine concentration of non-biodegradable particles in our air supply, some of which are just ugly to deal with and some are actually toxic.)

resin powders and dusts;

salt and sugar crystals;

sand and soil; and

wood shavings, wood dust (These particles are crated any time there is sawing, cutting, milling, drilling, carving, sanding or any workd done on or with wood. Fine wood dust is very light and can hang in the air for long periods of time. Not only can the smallest wood particles be inhaled deep into the lungs where they are unhealthy in their own right, causing anything from mild to chronic and even fatal maladies, but they also can carry mold, other fungus, and bacteria into one's system.)
Magnified dust particles
Magnified Volcanic Ash
Magnified pet dander
Magnified dust mite with feces
Magnified Feather Particles
Magnified Bird Mite on Feather Barb
Magnified asbestos fibers
Magnified Human Hair & Fragments
Magnified Insect & Potential Fragments
Magnified Powdered Metal
Magnified mold spores
Microscopic soot
Magnified Chalking paint Particles
Magnified pollen
Magnified Additives to Recycled Paper
Magnified sugar crystals
Microscopic sand

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it begins to alert us to the increased respiratory burden they create just by their very presence.

Nearly 100 million in United States are breathing unhealthy levels of particles, says EPA

 July 1, 2004

By Chris Baltimore, Reuters

WASHINGTON — Almost 100 million people in 21 U.S. states breathe unhealthy levels of tiny particles spewed by coal-burning power plants, cars, and factories, the Environmental Protection Agency said this week.

Hundreds of scientific studies have found links between particulate air pollution -- at levels people are breathing today -- and respiratory problems, increased use of asthma medications, missed school days from respiratory illness, emergency room visits, strokes, heart problems and premature death.

EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt notified governors from mostly Eastern states plus California that 243 counties do not comply with an agency proposal to limit emissions of the extremely tiny particles. The particles, 28 times smaller than the width of a human hair, are linked to premature death from heart and lung disease, as well as chronic bronchitis and asthma.

Action on particulates, which Leavitt puts at the top of his air quality agenda, is the next regulatory step after the EPA designated them as a pollutant in 1997.

"There is nothing we can accomplish that will increase the health of our air more than decreasing concentrations of (particulate matter)," Leavitt told reporters.

The EPA action sets in motion a process where states must submit plans to reduce particulate emissions by early 2008, with compliance required in the 2010-2015 time frame. Partial attainment of the standards in 2010 could prevent 15,000 premature deaths, according to agency analysis.
Tiny particles come from a wide array of sources, ranging from cars and trucks to wood-burning stoves, forest fires, power plants, and factories. In Eastern states, the majority of the pollution comes from coal-burning power plants. In California, which has no coal facilities, most is from cars and trucks.

Environmentalists said EPA's rules won't lead to fast enough reductions in particulate emissions from the nation's 1,100 coal-burning power plants, the largest single source.

"EPA needs to take swift action to cut the dangerous pollution from power plant smokestacks or millions of Americans will be left gasping for clean air," said Vickie Patton, an attorney at Environmental Defense.

EPA's plan to cut utility emissions by 70 percent by 2015 will mark one of the most productive periods in U.S. air-quality improvements, Leavitt said.

"This is not about the air getting dirtier," Leavitt said. "It's about the air getting cleaner and our standards getting tougher."

There is no outright penalty for noncompliance, but states that fail to submit plans could lose federal transportation funds, Leavitt said.

State governors had asked EPA to designate 141 counties as noncompliant, far short of the 243 EPA named in a preliminary list it will finalize in November.

The EPA found noncompliant counties in the following states plus the District of Columbia: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Particulates also include the components known by the acronym "F.O.G." for "Fats, Oils, and Grease".
Fat, Oil, and Grease -- a fat chance for trouble.
Spend much time around a kitchen or a machine shop, and you are dealing with a potentially serious buildup of some mighty nasty materials. Picture coating the linings of your lungs with dirt and butter or axle grease, and you will understand why breathing dust and FOG makes us cough or sneeze (natural responses designed to expel particulates).

Healthy lungs vs. asbestosis lungs
Fortunately, as sensitive and vulnerable as our airways and lungs are, they were designed to be able to fend off many of these particulate contaminates and remarkably recover from unwelcome encounters with them — all other things being equal.

However, for reasons set forth more fully elsewhere, ourIndustrial F.O.G. seen on airduct OUT put! exposures to a growing number of these particulates are becoming more frequent and cumulative, and with less than ideal recovery conditions, less than optimum nutrition, and a general lack of good, breathable air, we are increasingly falling victim to their ravages.

One of the ways we are being affected is by the body’s “blacklisting” certain of the breathables and causing our bodies to respond in a negative manner whenever there is an exposure to them. These are called allergens, which we will review next.

But we should remember, as well, that there is a potentially greater -- though not so evident -- risk posed by particulates which goes beyond the offensive materials themselves. Along with being irritating and harmful on their own, breathable particles are the vehicles on which germs, viruses, and other pathogens ride into our airways and make us sick. The greater the volume of particulates in the air we are breathing, the greater the chances that we will be infected and made ill.

GLOSSARY -- Partial glossary of terms from the U.S. CDC related to particulates

Abrasive blasting - Aprocess for cleaning metal and other surfaces using material in a high-pressure stream. The material is blasted against a surface to remove paint or contaminants. If silica sand is used as the material, this process is called sandblasting.

Accelerated silicosis - A silicosis that develops 5 to 10 years after exposure to high concentrations of crystalline silica.

Acute silicosis - A silicosis with symptoms that can develop a few weeks to 5 years after exposure to very high concentrations of crystalline silica. The term "acute" usually refers to a short but severe illness. In acute silicosis, the time between exposure and severe illness is shorter than in accelerated or chronic silicosis.

Biopsy - The removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids from a living body for diagnosis of disease.

Chronic silicosis - A silicosis that develops after 10 or more years of exposure to low concentrations of crystalline silica.

Crystalline silica - The crystalline form of silica; a mineral made of silicon and oxygen (SiO2) that is naturally abundant in the earth's crust. In its crystalline form (primarily as quartz, tridymite, or cristobalite), silica may be harmful if inhaled.

Cyanosis - A bluish or purplish discoloration due to inadequate oxygen concentration in the blood. This discoloration is most often seen in the skin, but it occurs in other body systems.

Fibrosis - Scarring of the lungs due to breathing harmful dusts or chemicals such as crystalline silica. As the disease develops, the lungs begin to stiffen and become less flexible, making breathing more difficult.

Particulate - A particle or small object made of a solid or liquid material.

Pneumonia - A lung disease caused by infection or irritants and characterized by inflammation.

Pneumoconiosis - A lung disease caused by inhaling hazardous dusts.

Pulmonary edema - An abnormal accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

Respirable particles - Airborne particles within a size range that allows them to be inhaled and to penetrate deeply into the lungs.

Respirator - A device worn over the mouth and nose or entire head to protect the user from inhaling harmful agents.

Sandblasting - A process for cleaning metal and other surfaces using sand in a high-pressure air stream. The sand is blasted against a surface to remove paint or contaminants. This process is also called abrasive blasting.

Silica sand - The fine particles from ground rock containing a high content of crystalline silica.

Silicosis - A nodular fibrosis of the lungs and shortness of breath caused by prolonged inhalation of silica-containing dusts.

Silicotic nodule - A mass of tissue that is a reaction of the body to crystalline silica particles.

Particulate removal is a must.

Top of this Page --^
<<-- Previous Page this Section
<-- Previous Heading this Section
Beginning of this Heading --^

There's More!

What You Need to Know
(A brief Overview of Indoor Air Quality Issues)
IAQ Overview - Table of Contents
IAQ Overview - Part 1 - Is There a Problem?
IAQ Overview - Part 2 - What Don't We Know?
* IAQ Overview - Part 3 - What Do We Need to Know? *
IAQ Overview - Part 4 - Which Technology Works the Best?
IAQ Overview - Part 5 - What are the Major Differences in the Technologies?
IAQ Overview - Part 6 - What IAQ Issues Need to be Considered and Addressed?
IAQ Overview - Full Article

Pro-active Environmental Technologies - Footer

All materials not supplied by manufacturers or others are
Copyright 2005 - 2014 -- breathe-easier.com -- All Rights Reserved
Check out the videos
Check out the videos

Overview Topics

Is There a Problem?

A. Is There a Problem?

An introduction to indoor air quality issues.

What Don't We Know

B. What Don't We Know?

The problem is worse than we


Need to Know

C. What Do We Need to Know?

Sorting out the info and charting a course to follow.


What Are We Breathing?

D. What are We Breathing?

Unwelcome guests we receive every time we breathe.



1. Particulates.

Airborne pieces of a lot of stuff we should not be breathing.


Fields of Potential Allergens

2. Allergens.

The body’s “hit list” of alien invaders.



3. Pathogens. 

The bacteria, viruses, and germs which reproduce in the human body and try to stage a takeover.


One of kazillions of Odor Sources in a home or building

4. Odors.

Things have odors for a reason,
but why?
Can the problem be corrected rather than merely masked or covered up?


VOC's on Demand

5. Chemicals/Smoke/VOC's.
Are we possibly drowning in a toxic soup?



6. Mold.

Is what we see dangerous?
And is what we don't see
perhaps more dangerous than what we do see?  


Which Technology?

E. Which Technology Works the Best?

Are the technologies pretty much equal, or is their a large disparity among them?


Passive Technology

1. Passive Technology.

The pollution finds the solution.
(Or so we hope!)


Active Technology

2. Active Technology.

The solution finds the pollution -
even where it is hiding!



a. Stage One --
Dual Ionization (Particulate Removal)


Quad Oxidizing Plasma Generator
b. Stage Two -- Quad Oxidizing Plasmas


Radical Hydroxyls

c. Stage Three -- Advanced Oxidation


RCI Technology
d. Combo Effect -- The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of its Parts.


Apples and Oranges

3. Major Differences.

Things that are not the same
are not equal.


Out of this world

a. Literally out of this world.

The technology which produces
"the purest air on the planet"
actually comes from
out of this world.


Overall air purity

b. Overall Air Purity.

By what standard do you certify the actual purity of air?


Lab tech

c. Too Clean to Test for Purity?

"Without dirt in the air,
we cannot tell you
how pure the air is."
Does that strike anybody as odd?


Where's the dirt?
d. Where's the Dirt?

(Where is Clara Peller
when you need her?)


What to do?

e. What to do? 

Anybody can see that it’s clean except the career bureaucrats.


Where are the germs?

f. Where are the Germs?

Hint: One place they are not is
"Blowin' in the Wind".


Who gets to clean the conventional filter?

g. Filtration rates vs. Kill rates.

In the war against pathogens,
would you like your germs
captured and contained
or killed "graveyard dead"?


Odor abatement/removal

h. Odor Abatement/Removal.

The same thing that RCITM
does to particulates and germs it does also to smoke, dust, and sources of odors.


What must be considered?

F. What IAQ issues must be considered and addressed?

Head to head comparison of the technologies - very revealing.


Medical considerations

G. Are there medical considerations?

Obligatory disclaimers and the practical realities of what happens when a sick body can actually catch its breath.


Legal considerations

H. Are there legal and other considerations?

What happens if we just ignore the problem or fail to investigate it fully?


When is timing an issue?

I. When is Timing an Issue?

If the mold or other air quality problem doesn't seem to be spreading or getting any worse, so we really have to pay it any attention?