Particulate matter (PM10) pollution consists of very small liquid and solid particles floating in the air. Of greatest concern to public health are the particles small enough to be inhaled into the deepest parts of the lung. These particles are less than 10 microns in diameter – about 1/7th the thickness of the a human hair – and are known as PM10. This includes fine particulate matter known as PM2.5.
PM10 is a major component of air pollution that threatens both our health and our environment.
Where does PM10 come from?
In the western United States, there are sources of PM10 in both urban and rural are as, major sources include:
Wood burning stoves and fireplaces.
Dust from construction, landfills, and agriculture.
Wildfires and brush/waste burning.
Windblown dust from open lands.
PM10 is a mixture of materials that can include smoke, soot, dust, salt, acids, and metals. Particulate matter also forms when gases emitted from motor vehicles and industry undergo chemical reactions in the atmosphere.
How does PM10 affect our health?
PM10 is among the most harmful of all air pollutants. When inhaled these particles evade the respiratory system’s natural defenses and lodge deep in the lungs.
Health problems begin as the body reacts to these foreign particles. PM10 can increase the number and severity of asthma attacks, cause or aggravate bronchitis and other lung diseases, and reduce the body’s ability to fight infections.
Although particulate matter can cause health problems for everyone, certain people are especially vulnerable to PM10’s adverse health effects. These “sensitive populations” include children, the elderly, exercising adults, and those suffering from asthma or bronchitis.
Of greatest concern are recent studies that link PM10 exposure to the premature death of people who already have heart and lung disease, especially the elderly.