How can you protect yourself from fine particles?

When they are inhaled, microscopic fine particles are toxic in how they can affect the lungs, heart, and cells. They can cause inflammation and exacerbate the risks of respiratory, pulmonary, cardiovascular diseases and even various types of cancer. To combat these emissions and the diseases they cause, there is a need for far-reaching public policies. Some measures are easy to implement, such as limiting the use of cars, capturing brake particles, avoiding congested areas, finding out about air quality indicators and taking care to protect your respiratory and pulmonary health.

Leave your car behind
When you drive, you are particularly exposed to fine particles. They become lodged in the passenger compartment and the air you breathe is loaded with fine particles. Walking, cycling or public transport: using more environmentally friendly methods to move around means protecting yourself from fine particles. This does not apply to railway enclosures however: an expert report by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) has found that railway enclosures in France contain concentrations of particles suspended in the air (PM10, PM2.5 in µg.m-3) that are on average three times higher than in outdoor urban environments.

Capturing brake particles
But how can you protect yourself against fine particles when you have no choice but to use your vehicle every day? It is possible to capture particle emissions at their source. When they are installed on exhaust or braking systems (such as the TAMIC® solution by Tallano Technologies), filtration devices capture fine particles from vehicles and prevent them from being dispersed into the air. These technologies need to be more widespread, especially for brake and tyre-wear dust, which is barely regulated, but just as dangerous as exhaust particles.

Avoid congested areas
Areas with high road-traffic density are heavily polluted and contain large quantities of fine particles in a small perimeter. To protect yourself from fine particles, it is better to move away from these neighbourhoods or avoid using busy roads on a daily basis – especially during rush hour.

Find out about air quality
Isn’t it time to get into some good habits? Check the air quality forecasts for your city on special websites such as Prev’air and Airparif for the Ile-de-France region. If air pollution levels are high, it is recommended that you stay indoors as much as possible and avoid playing sports. If you’re staying indoors, air purifiers can reduce the amount of fine particles you breathe.

Protect your lungs and your breathing
People suffering from respiratory or pulmonary diseases (asthma, chronic bronchitis, etc.) are less resistant to the harmful effects of fine particles. Good habits like stopping smoking, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet packed with antioxidants (blackberries, artichokes, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, and so on) will help keep you healthy and protected against fine particles.

Make a difference for the future
Having said all that, we lose an average of 2.2 years’ life expectancy due to air pollution – and this rises to 10 years for people living in New Delhi. The number of deaths caused by fine particle pollution is similar to the number of deaths caused by smoking, more than three times those caused by drinking alcohol and consuming unsafe water, and six times those caused by HIV. Fine particle air pollution is an invisible threat that requires more action from both individuals and governments.

Discover more questions

Electric vehicles help fight against global warming and reduce the air pollution that causes 307,000 premature deaths in Europe every year. But electric vehicles are not a miracle solution. They require a lot of energy to produce, charging them may need large amounts of fossil fuels (depending on the source of the electricity used) and – like petrol or diesel cars – they emit fine friction particles.
Air pollution exposure causes 40,000 deaths each year in France. How? Road transport comes top on the list of pollutant sources, neck and neck with the residential sector (home heating especially). Pollution is generated by vehicle traffic during chemical and physical reactions:
One in five deaths around the world is attributable to outdoor air pollution yet politicians are struggling to remedy the situation. In France, the government has even been found at fault by the Court of Justice of the European Union and the French Council of State for not doing enough, while air pollution causes more than 40,000 premature deaths every year. What’s to blame? Natural phenomena certainly contribute (pollen, forest fires, soil erosion, volcanic eruptions, etc.), but most of the damage is caused by human activity (agriculture, industry, transport, construction, etc.), which generates gases and fine particles. In some parts of France transport is the worst culprit, in others, agriculture comes top of the list. In the fight against outdoor air pollution in France, measures must now be taken on domestic heating and road transport, which are respectively responsible for half and a quarter of fine particle emissions in Ile-de-France.