Airborne particulate can lead to respiratory health problems in the occupants of buildings. Levels of airborne particle contamination inside a building can depend on many variable environmental factors including:
- Wind and weather
- Season and pollen levels
- Proximity to building and construction sites
- Nearby factories, smoke stacks or chimneys
- Traffic density
Once air enters buildings, other factors may affect levels of particulate the occupants breathe in including:
- Types of air filtration installed
- Condition of the air filtration
- Status of Air Handling Equipment (downstream of the filters)
- Type and condition of any humidifying system installed
- Type and condition of the air supply ducts
- The amount of re-circulated air
- Any processes that are taking place within the building and how these are controlled at source or through suitable ventilation
In our experience, building owners or managers are concerned with three main factors with respect to the dust content of indoor air:
- The amount of dust in the air and how it relates to air handling filter efficiency
- The health implications of the dusts
- The soiling characteristics of the dusts
HBI’s Dust Monitoring service can includes the results of dust monitoring using static instruments, personal sampling over the course of a working day and spot checks of particulate levels within specific areas.
The dust that has the most impact on the health of the people exposed is that fraction of the total airborne dusts that is in the size range that can be drawn directly into a person's lungs during normal breathing activity.
This fraction of the airborne dusts is called the Respirable Suspended Particulate (RSP) and is measured as the mass (weight) in micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³) of air.
The standards set by the HSE in EH40 for Industrial Environments are 10,000 µg/m³ of total inhalable dust (TSP) or 4,000 µg/m³ of respirable dust (RSP).