Air Quality: particulate pollution

Check out how safe your air is today in your part of the world by consulting this constantly updating map:

Then consider, on top of many pollutants you know about, the one called ‘particulate pollutants.

Definition below from:

“Particulate matter pollution or particulate pollution is one of the deadliest types of air pollution in India and on a global level. The primary reason for the rise in particulate pollution, type of air pollution, is because of human activities. Major sources of particulate matter emission are factories, power stations, incinerators, industries, automobiles, and diesel generators. All of this is anthropogenic sources or due to human activities…..”


As an asthmatic I am always alert to such threats, but respiratory and heart and lung problems are reaching deadly levels due to industrial endeavours.

Governments are monitoring levels of the ultrafine invasive particles described here:

“………the most damaging particles are the smaller particles, known as PM10 and PM2.5. PM10 refers to particles with a diameter smaller than 10 microns (10µm) – that’s 100 times smaller than a millimetre. PM2.5 refers to particles with a diameter smaller than 2.5 microns, and these are known as fine particles. The smallest fine particles, less than 0.1 micron in in diameter, are called ultrafine particles………..while PM10 can reach your airways. Fine particles (PM2.5) may reach the breathing sacs deep in your lungs, and ultrafine particles may even cross into your blood stream. These particles can also carry toxic chemicals that are linked to cancer.”

Countries both monitor and warn people if the Air Quality Index is unsafe,for example, Qatar:

It isn’t easy to monitor the ultrafine PM2 particles. NASA report says:

Jun 23, 2021

“Early in the pandemic, it was expected that satellite imagery around the world would show cleaner air as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. But not all pollutants were taken out of circulation. For tiny airborne-particle pollution, known as PM 2.5, researchers using NASA data found that variability from meteorology obscured the lockdown signals when observed from space.

PM 2.5 describes the mass of nose-level particles, often produced anthropogenically, that are smaller than 2.5 micrometers, or roughly 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. PM 2.5 is small enough to linger in the atmosphere, and, when inhaled, is associated with increased risk of heart attack, cancer and a host of other implications for human health.”

Nose-level particles attacking our health have been combined with the severe acute respiratory syndrome ( SARS) coronavirus attacks which invade our bodies through our nasal passages.

We have been double whammied!

Research in the Francis Crick Institute recently found “as someone’s lungs breathe in excessive amounts of PM2.5 — simply by being outside in polluted areas — potentially-cancerous cells are more likely to grow in the lungs, leading to lung cancer”

If we read:

we see the facts laid out before us with the headline:

Health Impacts of PM2.5

“Fine-particle outdoor air pollution is the largest driver of air pollution’s burden of disease worldwide.”

Asia and Africa see the highest burden of disease from PM2.5.

The information gathered suggests:

“Together, population growth and aging of the global population are estimated to account for more than half of the increased deaths attributed to PM2.5 exposure over the past decade.”

Meteorological factors influence pollution:

Industrial activity in one country can produce aerosols containing high PM2.5 levels which can be blown by winds into another.

For example, PM 2.5 pollution caused by the formation of secondary aerosols, especially nitrate, was carried from the US to Ontario in Canada.

Arctic ice remodeled Asian weather patterns, depriving industrial China of the natural wind-ventilation patterns it had come to depend on, and, as a result, blanketing much of the country’s north in an unbreathable smog.13 An obtuse-seeming metric called the Air Quality Index categorizes the risks according to an idiosyncratic unit scale tabulating the presence of a variety of pollutants: the warnings begin at 51–100, and at 201–300 include promises of “significant increase in respiratory effects in the general population.” The index tops out with the 301–500 range, warning of “serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly” and “serious risk of respiratory effects in the general population”; at that level, “everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion.” The Chinese “airpocalypse” of 2013 doubled the high end of that upper range, reaching a peak Air Quality Index of 993, and scientists studying the phenomenon suggested that China had inadvertently invented an entirely new and unstudied kind of smog, one that combined the “pea soup” pollution of industrial-era Europe and the small-particulate pollution that has lately contaminated so much of the developing world.That year, smog was responsible for 1.37 million deaths in the country. See:

Book: Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace-Wells

A study in Nagasaki, for example, showed:

“The correlation analysis results between PM2.5 concentration and meteorological data showed that temperature had a negative, and precipitation had a positive, correlation with PM2.5. There was a threshold in the correlations between humidity and wind speed and PM2.5. The correlation was positive or negative depending on the meteorological variable values, if these were lower or higher than the threshold. From the relationship with wind direction, it can be depicted that the west wind might bring the most pollutants to Nagasaki.”

In Taiwan another study:

“revealed respiratory diseases are positively associated with PM2.5 concentrations in different areas of Taiwan”

Lanuse can greatly affect the PM2.5 levels. See:

Here is an extract from this article:

“The results indicate that the dominant factor affecting PM2.5 pollution in the Nanchang urban area was the traffic conditions. Significant variances of PM2.5 concentrations among different urban functional zones throughout the year suggest that land use types generated a significant impact on PM2.5 concentrations and the impact did not change as the seasons changed. Land use intensity indexes including the building volume rate, building density, and green coverage rate presented an insignificant or counter-intuitive impact on PM2.5 concentrations when studied at the spatial scale of urban functional zones. Our study demonstrates that land use can greatly affect the PM2.5 levels. Additionally, the urban functional zone was an appropriate spatial scale to investigate the impact of land use type on PM2.5 pollution in urban areas.”

Efforts to mitigate and reduce harm are studied in this article about supply chain emissions in India, which suffers a high mortality rate from illnesses caused by people breathing in PM2.5 particulates.

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see
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