The U.S. EPA defines particulate air pollution as an air-suspended mixture of both solid and liquid particles. PM10 refers to particles less than 10µm (micrometers) in diameter.

How is PM10 produced?

Particulate matter comes from both human and natural sources. Natural sources include sea salt, wildfire smoke from forest fires, pollen, and mold. Human activities responsible for PM10 entering the atmosphere include:

  • Fuel-burning - both diesel and coal

  • Construction sites

  • Industrial emissions, such as power plants

  • Vehicle exhaust

PM10 particles include dust, pollen, and mold spores. “Coarse” particles have a diameter of between 10µm and 2.5µm. These and settle quickly. “Fine” (1 to 2.5µm in diameter) and “ultrafine” (<1µm in diameter) particles remain in suspension for longer. Due to how particulate matter size is classified, PM10 (coarse) contains PM2.5 (fine) and PM1 (ultrafine).

What are the health risks and environmental effects of PM10?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified PM (Particulate Matter) as carcinogenic to humans. They estimate it causes the deaths of 3.7 million people worldwide per year.

PM10 and PM2.5 particles are so small they can penetrate the deepest parts of the lungs and access the gas exchange regions of the lung via diffusion. This causes respiratory and cardiovascular issues. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems. These include difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, leukemia, and even death. Children, the elderly, and those with existing heart and lung conditions are the most at risk.

Particulate matter can cause irreparable damage to national parks and nature reserves by changing the acidity of lakes, depleting nutrients in the soil, and contributing to acid rain.

Why use an Aeroqual PM10 sensor?

Awareness is growing of the damaging effects of both PM10 and PM2.5 on the human body. WHO estimates that PM affects more people worldwide than any other pollutant.

To meet regulations and ensure the air is safe to breathe, governments and local authorities monitor PM. Industries must also measure PM levels and meet local regulatory requirements. These include industries such as:

  • Mines and quarries

  • Cement factories

  • Construction/demolition sites

  • Petrochemical plants

  • Agricultural/waste

Aeroqual offers a range of solutions for measuring PM10, including portable and fixed integrated monitoring systems. These provide accurate, reliable results for the protection of workers and the wider community.

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