Suspended particulate matter: what is PM10 and what is PM2.5? Atmospheric aerosols
PM2.5 – the most harmful pollution
PM2.5 are atmospheric aerosols with a maximum diameter of 2.5 micrometers. This type of suspended particulate matter is considered the most dangerous to human health. This is due to its very fine nature, and its ability to penetrate directly into the bloodstream. It is responsible for:
- exacerbated asthma
- decreased lung function
- lung, throat and laryngeal cancer
- lower birth weight of a baby and breathing problems when exposed to particulate matter during prenatal development
- intensification of symptoms of diseases related to the circulatory and respiratory systems
PM2.5 is subject to relevant thresholds, and when these thresholds are exceeded an alarm is issued. As a result, many people think that ordinary air is free of PM2.5, which is not the case. In Poland, even high concentrations do not exceed the threshold. In some places the alarm is not adequately publicised, or on the other hand it is announced so often that people do not pay attention to it. In Cracow for example, people are rarely observed wearing smog masks even though the air is of really poor quality. It is also worth adding that the WHO has set the standard of the average daily concentration of PM2.5 suspended particulate matter at 25 micrograms per cubic meter, and the annual standard is 10 micrograms per cubic meter.
PM10 – harmful particulate matter
PM10 is a mixture of particles suspended in the air that do not exceed 10 micrograms in diameter. It is harmful because it contains benzopyrenes, furans, dioxins and in short, carcinogenic heavy metals. According to the WHO, the limit value of the average daily concentration of this particulate matter is 50 micrograms per cubic meter, and the annual limit value is 20 micrograms per cubic meter. However, it is worth noting that information about exceeded limit values is only announced when the daily concentration of PM10 is 200 micrograms per cubic meter. This shows how often people believe that the quality of the air is acceptable, even when it is very polluted, just because the alarm level has not been reached yet.
PM10 has a negative effect on the respiratory system. It is responsible for coughing attacks, wheezing, and the worsening of conditions for people with asthma or acute bronchitis. PM10 also indirectly affects the rest of the body, including an increase in risk of a myocardial infarction and stroke. Benzopyrene is also highly carcinogenic.To conclude, aerosols of this type are very harmful to humans.