Retainer Systems Fighting Air Pollution: Tracking and Retaining Particulate Matter

Author / Editor: Dr. Kerstin Dreblow* / Doris Popp

Microwave digestion for the analysis of PM10 fraction of airborne particles — Particulate matter and suspended particles are a major health risk and must be reatined and controlled thoroughly. Monitoring them is, nevertheless, not easy. Elaborate digestion methods are needed to ensure reliable and robust retaining and determination o these substances...

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Air pollution exhibits detrimental effects on living organism and the environment. The improvement in air quality at the national and international level thus gains an increasing significance. As a result of the 2008/50/EC Directive on air quality and cleaner air for Europe, member states are bound to monitor the content of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), nickel (Ni) and lead (Pb) in particulate matter (PM10).

Airborne particles are on the one hand a product of natural processes (such as volcanoes, sand storms and spray), while on the other hand a large portion of the immissions have a man-made origin (e.g. the combustion of fossil fuels, industry and traffic).

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Mechanical Processes at Achema 2015
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Airborne particles with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 10 µm (PM10) are called particulate matter. Among them, respirable particles which are only partially held at bay by mucous membranes and cilia in the nasal region, are especially important. Due to their size, these particles may pass into the bloodstream and in this way spread throughout the whole body. Fine particles (PM 2.5) and ultra-fine particles (UP <0.1µm) are of the greatest toxicological relevance.

(Picture: Berghof)

Negative Effects of Air Pollution

Studies prove that there is a direct link between pollution caused by particulate matter and serious effects on health. Over the last few years a considerable increase in the following illnesses has been detected:

  • Respiratory ailments
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Lung cancer
  • Allergies

The particles pass into the body through the nose and mouth. Because of the limited filtering afforded by mucous membranes and nasal cilia PM10 particles can find their way into the pulmonary alveoli. The degree of damage here is dependent not only on the size of the particles but also on their toxicity (e.g. As, Pb, or mercury - Hg).