Particulate pollution

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

Image: Comparing a human hair to PM pollution

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
  • mining
  • emissions from combustion processes such as petrol and particularly diesel vehicles
  • farming
  • wood burning
  • bushfires
  • 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.

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  • commented 2015-12-06 11:33:00 +1100
    Modern wood heaters are so polluting that in the mining town of Muswellbrook, where open-cut mines supply coal to power stations that generate enough electricity for 3.25 million homes, a few hundred wood heaters were shown by chemical fingerprinting to be the major source of PM2.5 pollution (62% in winter, 30% year round) . Woodsmoke pollution was also identified as a major source of wintertime pollution in Liverpool, Sydney. An evening’s wood heating emits as many toxic chemicals as in the smoke from a quarter of a million cigarettes.
    Sign the petition to the Australian Environment Meeting on 15 Dec 2015 asking the government to save 700 lives per year by cleaning up air and woodsmoke pollution