Particulates Reduce Productivity - US Study

Wednesday 19 March, 2014

With the recent Morwell open cut coal mine fire, there was a significant media focus on air quality and the negative effects poor air quality can have on the health and wellbeing of people living and working in this Victorian town. The two specific air quality items of concern with this fire were the high carbon mononxide (CO) level and the level of small particles in the air, also known as particulate matter (PM).   

This recently published US study and its findings are very interesting and relevant if you have a particulate problem in your work or home environment or are responsible for air quality in your workplace.  This study reveals a strong connection between particulates and productivity and this was shown even at particulate (PM2.5) levels under the US and Victorian EPA NEPM recommended level. 

One of the key conclusions from this study, that took place in an indoor pear packing plant was as follows:

One major implication of the study is that reductions of PM 2.5 can have significant economic benefits. The authors estimate that across the entire U.S. manufacturing sector, reductions in PM 2.5 since 1997 has led to an aggregate labor savings of $19.5 billion – a previously-unknown benefit of fine particulate regulation.

We suggest you consider, could you reduce your dust particulate level and improve productivity at your workplace?   We invite you to contact us to learn more or to measure particulate levels at your workplace.

To learn and read more about this US study

To learn more about the related CETEC Services 

Indoor Air Quailty
Occupational Hygiene

Spotlight on Particulates

PM (particulate matter)

A term used to describe and measure the size of particles of any substance that can be found in the – air dust, soot or smoke. PM is not a chemical, as chemical properties in the particulate matter will vary depending the source of the particles. Scientific testing of particulate matter determines what is in the particles.


Also known as fine particles, it is the term used to describe the smallest of particulate matter (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair that) can be inhaled into the respiratory system. Depending on what is contained in the particles, PM2.5 generally has the highest health concern, due to how easily they can be inhaled.

Note: Dr Rosemary Lester (Victorian Department of Health's Chief Health Officer) recently confirmed that it was the PM2.5 level which was of most concern to people's health during the Morwell fires.


PM10 particles are larger in size and can also be inhaled into the respiratory system.