Particulate matter pollution (also known as particulate pollution or PM pollution) is one of the most common and concerning forms of pollution, as new evidence has emerged showing that exposure causes lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Particulate matter pollution is made up of particles that are referred to as coarse, fine or ultrafine particles (PM10, PM2.5,or PM0.1) depending on the size of the particles.
PM pollution can cause a range of health problems and is strongly associated with hospitalisation and death for cardio-pulmonary disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular diseases.
Even short-term exposure can cause serious ongoing health problems
The smaller the particle, the more dangerous to human health,as small particles are more easily drawn deep into the lungs and are closely linked to serious health impacts, particularly heart and lung disease.
The main causes of PM pollution in Australia are:
- coal burning for power generation
- emissions from combustion processes such as petrol and particularly diesel vehicles
- wood burning
- dust storms
- industrial activities such as brickworks, refineries, iron and steel making, quarrying, smelters, cement plants and
- paper mills.
PM pollution is a problem in both large cities and rural towns.