The Ultimate Guide To Dust Monitoring

As employers, we have a responsibility to make sure that our people are protected at work.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles, leading to the inhalation of hazardous particulate matter. As decision makers and employers, we can work to significantly reduce this number. How? By employing modern safety technology.

Effective particulate monitoring procedures and units can help us to protect not only the lives of our people, but the financial future of our businesses.

We’re here to offer a helping-hand in understanding the fundamentals of dust monitoring and particulate matter.

In this blog, we’ll be getting down to basics with:

  • Some dust monitoring jargon
  • Answering the questions: ‘What is dust monitoring?’ and ‘Why do we need it?’
  • Outlining the dangers of dust inhalation

Dust Monitoring Jargon

Here’s a basic introduction to some common language around particulate matter and dust monitoring… You can find a longer glossary of technology types, Air XD- specific terms, diseases and legislation in our Jargon Buster.

For now, let’s start with the basics: size measurements in particulate monitoring.


The unit of measurement used to describe the size of an individual particle i.e. 1µm (or a micron/micrometre = 1 millionth of a meter. A human hair is typically around 60µm diameter.



‘Particulate Matter’ – A mix of solid and liquid droplets suspended in the air to form. I.e. PM10 refers to all particles of 10µm and below in a sample. Our engineering team mocked up a quick graph that may be easier to understand:

It is common practice for legislation to monitor PM1, PM2.5, PM4.25 and PM10.


Short for nanometre. Particulate sizes smaller than 1µm. For example, when we say the Air XD’s range starts at 0.35µm, this is expressed as 350nm in nanometres.


The measurement of particulate matter present in a given amount of cubic air – the measurement most frequently measured by legislation.


‘Total Suspended Particulates’, a regulatory measurement of the total mass concentration of particulate matter in a concentration of air or liquid.

What is dust monitoring

Dust monitoring is the detection, assessment and control of particulate matter or ‘PM’ – the mix of solid particles and liquid droplets suspended in the air. Particulate matter is monitored by size and concentration. There are various different safety technologies that perform particulate monitoring, to varying degrees of accuracy and depth.

Modern dust monitors like the Air XD are able to provide in-depth detail of particulate matter present in the air, across a wide-spectrum of potentially very hazardous

Why do we need dust monitoring?

It’s not just compliance with the law that makes dust monitoring necessary. Effective monitoring allows us to majorly reduce risk of illness and save the lives of our people. It can also financially future-proof businesses, by recommendations of more intelligent dust control methods, protection against potential litigation claims, minimising product loss through leakages and increased productivity to name but a few.

Dangers of dust inhalation

Respirable dust is the invisible killer that no-one is talking about. The infographic demonstrates the effect of each particulate size on the human body and provides examples of each. Long-term exposure to some of the most dangerous respirable particulates <2µm could lead to life-threatening diseases like silicosis, COPD, Black Lung Disease and lung cancers.