Why do we collect atmospheric particles in filters?

The study participants bring for two days a backpack with several equipment to measure their personal exposure to air pollution. One of these devices is a pump that passes the air through a filter. This filter collects particles less than 2.5 μm (so small that they are not visible to the naked eye) called PM2.5 that are in suspension in the air we breathe.

Image of the particle collector (the filter is inside) installed in the backpack.

But why collect particles in filters?

The filters give us very important information. On the one hand, we can calculate the concentration of these particles in the air. That is, we can quantify the levels of pollution by PM2.5.

On the other hand, we can also analyze these filters in the laboratory to know their chemical composition. These analyzes allow us to evaluate the toxicity of the different elements and chemical compounds (not all air particles affect the same way to health). From the chemical composition we can also determine which are the main sources that emit these particles.

Information on what elements are most harmful to health and the sources that emit them is crucial to propose and implement policies to reduce pollutants and protect health.

We want to take the opportunity to thank the participants of the BiSC project for their collaboration. If you are pregnant and in your first trimester of pregnancy, go to www.projecteBiSC.org and join the 1,200 pregnant women who will work to build the cities we want: healthy urban environments where our children can grow healthy.

The text has been written by Ioar Rivas, an researcher of BiSC project.