Particulate Pollution

 

The term Particulate Matter (PM) includes both solid particles and liquid droplets found in air. Many man-made and natural sources emit PM directly or emit other pollutants that react in the atmosphere to form PM. These solid and liquid particles come in a wide range of sizes.

PM has two sets of cautionary statements, which correspond to the two sizes of PM that are measured:

                        Particles up to 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5)

                        Particles up to 10 micrometers in diameter (PM 10)

PM10

Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter tend to pose the greatest health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system.



 
 

PM2.5

Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter are referred to as "fine" particles. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion (motor vehicles, power plants, wood burning, etc.) and some industrial processes. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter tend to pose the greatest health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system.

 

Health Effects:

• Health effects have been associated with exposures to PM over both short (such as a day) and longer periods (a year or more).

• When exposed to even small levels of PM, people with existing heart or lung diseases-such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart disease, or ischemic heart disease-are at increased risk of premature death and or admission to hospitals or emergency rooms.

• The elderly are very sensitive to PM exposure. They are at increased risk of admission to hospitals or emergency rooms and premature death from heart or lung diseases.

• Children and people with existing lung disease may not be able to breathe as deeply or vigorously as they normally would, and they may experience symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath when exposed to levels of PM.

• PM can increase the susceptibility to respiratory infections and can aggravate existing respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic bronchitis, causing more use of medication and more doctor visits.