"Particulates" is a common term used to describe any tiny solid particles> found inside of a liquid or gas. You can think of it as the little bits of cocoa powder in your chocolate milk. The contaminants that make their way into our drinking water are often referred to as particulates when they can't otherwise be identified.
It's usually pretty easy to tell if your drinking water is looking a bit cloudy or tastes kind of off, but we can't always notice the difference ourselves. Particulate matter is measured by micron units, which are smaller than the human eye can see! In fact, one micron is about 1/25,000 of an inch wide.
Not all particulates are harmful. (In the case of chocolate milk, they can be delicious!) Some are inert specs of dirt that just make our water less appetizing. But there are always other nasties (like bacteria or toxic chemicals) that are carried into our water supply by particulates.
For refrigerator water and ice dispensers, particulates can be removed by the refrigerator water filter. The filter media inside traps the microscopic particles as the water passes through them, leaving your drinking water cleaner and safer to drink.
When checking out the performance specs of a water filter, particulates are often categorized by three particulate classes, based on their particle size.
- Class I 0.5 to 1 micron
- Class II 1 to 5 microns
- Class III 5 to 15 microns
So if you see that a filter has been rated to remove 95.1% of Particulates (Class II), that means that it's able to remove 95.1% of particles that are between 1 and 5 microns in size.
And for the curious, a particle of cocoa powder is typically measured at 200 to 250 microns.