KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1, 2015:

“PM2.5 is dust that is measured as being finer than the size of 2.5 microns, whereas PM10 is dust that is finer than 10 microns.”

However, apparatus that can detect PM10 dust, are unable to detect particles smaller than PM2.5

That was what former Environment Department director general Datuk Rosnani Ibrahim said when explaining the air pollutant index (API) readings.

This, Rosnani said, meant that when measuring PM10, there was also dust particles that were 2.5 microns and smaller which would be missed.

According to him, that was important information because the standards allowed for PM2.5 were far stricter than PM10 standards.

“When we measure dust using PM10 apparatus, we do not know the percentage of dust content that is less than 2.5 microns.

“If we can measure PM2.5, then the action needed to ensure public health can be taken faster,” he said when contacted by The Rakyat Post.

Recently, Progressive Impact Corporation Berhad (Picorp), through its subsidiary Alam Sekitar Sdn Bhd, announced its readiness to bring in PM2.5 technology considering that it has been in existence for the past three years.

The company has 20 years of experience and involvement in the environmental sector, whereby most of the technology brought in had international recognition and was from the United States.

Rosnani explained that scientists believed dust particles that were 2.5 microns and below were more detrimental to health because it would enter the human respiratory system.

The long and short-term danger levels also depended on the content of dust particles and how long one was exposed to them.

“For example, the haze affecting us today, we do not know that what are actually being carried across the border are very fine dust particles. PM2.5 is 30 times smaller than hair. It is able to move thousands of kilometres in the air and is harmful to people.

“Previously, dust measured as PM10 was also found by scientists as affecting humans. It’s just that at that time the PM2.5 component was not that high.

“That’s why there is concern now to look into PM2.5,” he said.

Last week, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was reported to have said that talks were ongoing to upgrade 52 air quality control stations and this was expected to be operational by 2017.

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