Particulate Matter: Particulate matter (PM) or particulates – are microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. Sources of particulate matter can be man-made or natural. They have impacts on climate and precipitation that adversely affect human health.
Subtypes of atmospheric particulate matter includes suspended particulate matter (SPM), respirable suspended particle (RSP; particles with diameter of 10 micrometres or less), fine particles (diameter of 2.5micrometres or less), ultrafine particles, and soot.
The IARC and WHO designate airborne particulates a Group 1 carcinogen. Particulates are the deadliest form of air pollution due to their ability to penetrate deep into the lungs and blood streams unfiltered, causing permanent DNA mutations, heart attacks, and premature death.
In 2013, a study involving 312,944 people in nine European countries revealed that there was no safe level of particulates and that for every increase of 10 μg/m3 in PM10, the lung cancer rate rose 22%. The smaller PM2.5 were particularly deadly, with a 36% increase in lung cancer per 10 μg/m3 as they can penetrate deeper into the lungs.