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Tiny solid airborne particles. Particulates are a type of pollution composed of Soil, Soot, proteins, and salts. They range in size from below 1 micrometer to about 10 micrometers. Particles above 10 micrometers tend to settle out quickly. Suspended particles smaller than 1 micrometer are called aerosols. They can provide a nucleus for condensation.

Sources of particulates include: Combustion residues (soot, smog, smoke, flyash), construction (roads, buildings, vehicles), humans (proteins), fibers (lint), biological specimens (spores, pollen), soil (dust, salt)

  • See Pollutant record for a comparison table of aerosols and collection risks.

Synonyms and Related Terms

particulate matter; aerosol particles; Feinstaub (Deut.); particule (Fr.)

Personal Risks

  • Particulates smaller than about 10 micrometers can settle in the bronchi and lungs

Collection Risks

  • Dust can cause disfiguration of objects, attract pests, and scratch soft surfaces by friction.
  • Some objects can be difficult to clean (feathers, minerals, microcracks, sticky objects, etc.);
  • Magnetic tapes (audio, video, data) and grooved recordings (78's, 45's, 33's and cylinders) are very susceptible to damage

Resources and Citations

  • Jean Tétreault, Agent of Deterioration: Pollutants, Airborne Pollutants
  • Wikipedia: Particulates Accessed July 2023
  • P.Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002.

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