Particulate Matter

Last updated: December 24, 2023

What Does Particulate Matter Mean?

Particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of microscopic solid particles and liquid droplets, suspended in the atmosphere. PM originate from man made and natural activities, such as construction and destruction, accidental leakage of a chemical systems, natural wind, forest fire and volcanic eruption etc. These PM components, such as dusts and soils, chemicals, metals and aerosols cause air pollution and reduce the air quality required by humans and animals to breathe.

Safeopedia Explains Particulate Matter

Particulate matter (PM) are divided in two categories, fine (diameter of 100 nm to 2.5µm) and coarse (diameter of 2.5µm to 10µm). According to the United States environment protection agency (EPA), PM including liquid droplets containing acids and other toxic chemicals are harmful for human health as they can easily enter the lungs. Polluted air is a mixture of solid and/or liquid PM suspended in the air whether it originated naturally via wind, volcanic activity, forest fire and sea sprays, or by human activities, like oil and gas burning, production process, construction work and transportation.

PM has been associated with serious health effects in human, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, premature birth, birth defects and premature deaths. Children and elderly people are the most sensitive to the effects of PM. PM is also accountable for corrosion, soiling, damaging vegetation, fog, mist, reduced visibility and associated accidents.


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