When the experts talk about pollution levels, we also hear them mentioning how PM (particulate matter) levels have increased during high pollution days. We all know there is pollution in the air and AQI is quite high. But what do we know about AQI and PM level in the air?

In this blog, we discuss more about Particulate Matter and how they control the quality of the air we breathe.

Particulate Matter – Definition & Source

Particle pollution or PM is a complex mixture of tiny dust particles that are almost invisible to our naked eyes. These particle pollutions are made of several airborne components including nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, organic chemicals, soil, and metal compounds.

PM 2.5 is an inhalable particle with a diameter which is 10 micrometers or smaller. Inhaling these small-sized particulate matter causes common health issues which can also lead to chronic health problems.

Air pollution - particulate matter

Particulate matter present in the air is mostly emissions emitted from power plants, chemical industries, and automobiles. Breathing minuscule air particles gets deep into our lungs and gets in our bloodstream which has a direct effect on our lungs and heart.

Recommended – 10 Main Causes Of Air Pollution

Harmful Effects of Particulate Matter

According to recent scientific study by WHO, exposure to particulate matter causes a variety of health and environmental effects which is only increasing. Breathing PM 2.5 infected air is causing over 3% of cardiopulmonary and 5% of lung-cancer death globally. It has also been reported that particulate matter exposure has reduced the life expectancy of the population by 1.8 years which is almost 2 years.

Health effects of PM level

Particulate 2.5 and 10 include inhalable air particles that are small enough to cause numerous short-and-long-term health issues, irrespective of the age. Breathing polluted air for too long can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

  • Aggravation of asthma or bronchitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Decreased lung function
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Irritation of the airways leading to persistent coughing
  • Irregular heartbeats causing palpitation
  • Premature death in people with heart or lung disease

People with heart or lung disease, children, pregnant women, older people are most likely to be affected by particulate matter exposure. Monitoring ambient air quality before stepping outside during high pollution days can help people to be safe from getting any health issues from air pollution.

Environmental effects of Particulate Matter

particulate matter - environmental pollution

The quality of the air also depends on wind speed and direction. A simple change of wind direction, the air quality can be different from one place to another. That means, particles can be carried over long distances by wind and then settle on ground or water. Depending on the chemical composition, particulate matter has the ability to impact our surrounding, severely affecting our environment.

  • making lakes and streams acidic
  • changing the nutrient balance in coastal waters and large river basins
  • depleting the nutrients in the soil
  • damaging sensitive forests and farm crops
  • affecting the diversity of ecosystems
  • contributing to acid rain effects

What can be done to reduce the impact of particulate matter in our lives?

In our country, both in rural and urban cities, the level of indoor and outdoor pollution is increasingly high. We are always surrounded by various sources of air pollution – be it in house pollution or outdoors. Exposure to tobacco smoke, cooking smoke, chemical products that often constitute cleaning products, beauty, and health care products, pet dander, dust mites, mold, and pollen are the root cause for the rise of pollution. Environmental pollution occurs due to open burning of garbage and toxic gas emission from the landfill, and vehicular pollution to name a few.

Things that can help reduce PM level in the air:

  • Carpool, use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible
  • Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products
  • Avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials

Our contribution lies in being responsible and aware of our surroundings and how it is directly affecting our lives on a daily basis.

Check real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) on www.aqi.in and learn more about various pollution trend throughout the country.   

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