About air pollution
What are PMs?
Particulate Matter (PM), also known as soot, is made of microscopic solid particles or liquid droplets that are either emitted directly into the air or formed by pollutants that combine in the atmosphere. PM is usually measured in three size ranges, which are the most harmful to health: PM10, PM2.5, and PM1.
PM10 or coarse dust particles refer to particles with a diameter less than or equal to 10 microns in size. They are about 50 times smaller than the width of a human hair and are small enough to evade our defensive nose hairs and get inhaled into our lungs. Sources of this PM10 include crushing/grinding operations, and dust stirred up by vehicles. Pollen, mold, and plant and insect particles are also considered PM10.
Hourly health limit value in the EU: 50 μg/m³ (microgram per cubic meter).
PM2.5 or fine particles are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. Fine particles are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, wildfires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes. While PM10 ends up in your lungs, PM2.5 is more dangerous as it can transfer from your lungs into your bloodstream. From your bloodstream, it can end up anywhere in your body, thereby making it "the invisible killer".
There is no official hourly limit value. Annual health limit value in the EU: 25 μg/m³. Annual health limit value recommended by WHO: 10 μg/m³.
PM1 - particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 1 micrometer - is a major subset of PM2.5. These are extremely fine particles that are even more likely to reach even deeper into the respiratory system than PM2.5 and from there to any organ of your body. PM1 is the by-product of emissions from residential heating and burning, vehicular pollution, construction activities, and some factories.
There is no official hourly limit value.
What are the VOCs?
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. In fact, they may be emitted by a wide array of products, including paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, household products such as varnishes and wax, cleaning and disinfecting, products, building materials (plywood and particleboard) and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, glues and adhesives.
VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation as well. as headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea. They may also cause damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some are suspected or known to cause cancer.
VOC indoor levels are considered acceptable if they range from 0.6 to 1.0 mg/m³.