Much of the PM2 is produced by emissions from the burning of gasoline, oil, diesel fuel, or wood. PM10 also contains dust from construction sites, landfills, and farms, as well as wildfires and brush/waste burning, industrial sources, wind-blown dust from open spaces, pollen, and bacterium particles. Changes in the weather can also affect the size distribution of PM10, with rain or snow falling on soil or trash dumps changing the mixture of sand, gravel, and other small particles with organic material and other non-sandable matter.
PM10 enters the atmosphere through multiple processes. It may be emitted directly into the air during combustion events such as when a driver releases a parked car's brake pedal or when fire consumes large amounts of wood or coal. Or it may enter the atmosphere indirectly, being carried across long distances by ocean winds and deposited along the way. Once in the atmosphere, PM10 can remain for many days or even weeks before being oxidized by sunlight or other factors and breaking down into smaller particles or gas molecules.
The most common form of PM10 is made up of solid particles less than 10 microns in diameter. For comparison, cells in human lungs are about 10 microns in diameter. Smaller particles can pass through lung tissue and enter body organs such as the heart, while larger particles can remain in the lungs and lead to problems breathing. Long-term exposure to high levels of PM10 can increase your risk of developing asthma or other respiratory illnesses.
PM10s are very fine particles found in dust and smoke. They are 10 micrometres (0.01 mm) or smaller in diameter. PM10 particles are a prevalent kind of air pollution. At several of our air monitoring stations, we measure PM10. It is common to see numbers like 12 micrograms per cubic meter (12 ug/m3), which means that the concentration of PM10 particles in the air was 12 micrograms per cubic meter.
Sources of PM10 emissions include motor vehicles, industrial processes, cooking fires, and tobacco burning. Grasslands and forests also emit significant amounts of PM10. Wind can carry pollutants long distances from their sources and deposit them in far-away places. So, even if there are no visible sources of pollution nearby, someone might be affected by local events many miles away.
When it comes to health effects, scientists think that PM10 may play a role in asthma attacks, heart disease, and premature death. Studies have shown links between short-term increases in PM10 concentrations and hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. There are also studies that link daily changes in ambient temperatures with increased rates of hospital admissions for cardiovascular diseases.
Asthma attacks can be triggered by various factors including allergens, exercise, respiratory infections, smoking, and certain chemicals. Scientists think that air pollution could be another cause.
Due to their closeness to dry areas, natural dust is the major source of PM10 in the Middle East and Northern African nations. In northwestern Europe, sea salt is the most major natural source of PM10. In southern Europe, volcanic ash from Mount Etna is the main contributor.
Dust from construction sites is another major source of PM10 in many countries. Airborne particles from industries such as cement production, metal refining, and coal mining are also significant sources of PM10. Organic matter from dead plants and animals adds more carbon to the air when it falls as rain or snow. This process is called soil formation. The carbon that isn't absorbed by plants or decomposed by bacteria ends up in the atmosphere as CO2.
Solar radiation can break down organic molecules in the atmosphere and generate ozone, which blocks out harmful UV rays. However, too much solar radiation can cause chemical changes in certain compounds that lead to increased levels of PM10. For example, high temperatures can lead to pyrolysis products such as benzene, xylene, and toluene. Solar radiation can also cause direct reactions between some chemicals in the atmosphere and produce new substances known as photochemical pollutants.
Soil formation is one way that organisms try to clean up pollution in their environment.