PM stands for particulate matter, the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Particulate matter includes: PM 2.5 (fine inhalable particles), with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less; PM 10 (inhalable particles), with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less; and coarse particles, with a diameter of 10 – 25 micrometers.
The width of PM2.5 particles is about 1/25 of a diameter of a single human hair. PM 2.5 particles are fine inhalable particles, invisible to the naked eye, which can get past nose hairs into the lungs. PM 2.5 particles come from 2 major sources: primary particles from natural sources, such as dust and dirt from the ground, soil, and agricultural fields, and wildfires; and secondary particles from combustion emissions, fossil fuel power stations, industrial plants, construction sites, landfill burning, and outdoor burning. PM 2.5 particles can be found floating in the air for days and weeks and can travel over the distance of 100 – 1,000 kilometers depending on various factors such as: 1) wind speed; 2) atmospheric pressure; 3) humidity; 4) weather condition; 5) emission source; and 6) particle size. PM 2.5 particles may enter the respiratory system, into the lungs, the bloodstream, and reach nearly every organ of the body, risk causing various chronic illnesses, including cancer.
The most effective PM 2.5 management is to reduce particle emission from the source, such as reducing outdoor burning, and using alternative fuels, which could impact both the way of life and the economy. Thus, it will require cooperation from both the public and the private sectors to work together for a sustainable pollution management.
Simple steps you can take to reduce PM 2.5 exposure are: wear a facemask; limit your outdoor activities; and when you arrive home, perform nasal irrigation using 0.9% normal saline solution to flush out dust, excess mucus, bacteria, and allergens while moisturizing the nasal cavity for a better breathing through the nose.
- White Paper, Clean Air Network, Thailand ,National Health Office
- Impact of pm2.52 and dust removal in northern Thailand, The Association of Researchers of Thailand,Vol. 25 Issue 1 January-April 2020