Main particle sizes PM10 and PM2.5

A brief overview about PM10 and PM2.5.
Particle pollution, also called particulate matter or PM, are solids material (sometimes liquid too) that float in the air. Some particles are released directly from a specific source, while others form in complicated chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

  • Coarse dust particles (PM10) are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter. Sources include crushing or grinding operations and dust stirred up by vehicles on roads, more specific:
    • mold, spores, pollen, smoke, dirt and dust from factories and farming.
  • Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, and can only be seen with an electron microscope. Fine particles are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes:
    • toxic organic compounds and heavy metals

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By measuring now these particles we can understand the origin of the pollutions and take specific actions.

How can PM affect health?

Particles in the PM2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Scientific studies have linked increases in daily PM2.5 exposure with increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, emergency department visits and deaths. Studies also suggest that long term exposure to fine particulate matter may be associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. People with breathing and heart problems, children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM2.5.

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