Bayamon, Puerto Rico -- There are many industries across Puerto Rico and the Caribbean that expose workers to elevated levels of particulate matter, also known as PM. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes particulate matter as a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small they can only be detected using an electron microscope.
Due to their size, particulate matter can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Particles less than 10 micrometers (PM10) in diameter pose the greatest problems as they can get deep into people’s lungs and some may even get into the bloodstream.
The EPA reports that exposure to such particulates can affect both the lungs and the heart. People with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults are the most likely to be affected by exposure. The agency states that numerous scientific studies have linked exposure to a variety of health issues, including:
- premature death in people with heart or lung disease
- nonfatal heart attacks
- irregular heartbeat
- aggravated asthma
- decreased lung function
- increased respiratory symptoms
“Sources of particulate matter can come from both indoor and outdoor sources,” said Harry Pena, President of Zimmetry Environmental. “Workers in numerous occupations could be at increased risk of exposure and some types of PM are regulated to protect workers’ health. At Zimmetry, we utilize particle counters, aerosol monitors and other forms of air sampling and testing to identify potential exposure concerns and offer ways to mitigate any risks found. These services protect workers and keep companies in regulatory compliance.”
Zimmetry recently sponsored a video about particulate matter pollution and people’s health that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/qBGvPZlucLA