What is PM 2.5 Air Pollution?

Particulate Matter 2.5 refers to microscopic solid particles or liquid droplets that are suspended in the air. PM is the common indicator of air pollution and is responsible for affecting more humans than any other known pollutant. The major PM components include ammonia, black carbon, sulfate, sodium chloride, nitrates, water, and mineral dust. These particles are so tiny that they are measured in microns i.e. two and a half microns. In essence, 1 inch is equal to 25,000 microns. PM 2.5 particles have impacts on precipitation and climate, which can adversely affect the health of humans. Particles in the size of PM 2.5 are so tiny that they can travel through the respiratory tract into the lungs when breathed in.

What are the health effects of PM 2.5 particles?

Exposure to these tiny particles can cause health effects such as shortness of breath, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and lung, eye nose, and ear irritation. Additionally, when you are exposed to these fine particles, it can worsen conditions such as heart disease and asthma. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause premature deaths of 4.2 million p.a in 2016. This mortality was attributed to PM 2.5 particles which cause cancers, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that both the elderly and children with heart and breathing problems are more likely to be sensitive to PM 2.5.

Where it often comes from

PM 2.5 particles come from indoor and outdoor sources. Fine particles that originate from outside come from bus, truck, and car exhausts, including operations that involve burning of wood, heating of coal or oil, and natural sources like volcanoes, dust storms, grass, and forest fires. Human activities like burning fossil fuels, power plant emissions, stubble burning, wet cooling systems, and various industrial applications may also produce these particulates. Indoor activities that produce PM 2.5 particles include oil lamps, burning candles, cooking (e.g broiling, sauteing, and frying), and tobacco smoke.

How to remove it

Pollution is hazardous when PM 2.5 particles levels are above 500. In this case, everyone should take the right measures to reduce their exposure to these particles. However, people with asthma, lung or heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at higher from exposure to PM 2.5 particles. In addition, children and older adults are at higher risk from PM 2.5 particles exposure.

Adults are a risk group because they are likely to have undiagnosed cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and high blood pressure. On the other hand, kids are a risk group because they are likely to be exposed to air pollution while playing outdoors.