Particle Matter

PIW Environmental  /  Particles  /  Particle Matter

Particle Matter


Particle pollution, or particulate matter, consists of particles that are in the air, including dust, dirt, soot and smoke, and little drops of liquid. Some particles, such as soot or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen. Other particles are so small that you cannot see them. Small particles are the most concerning because they are most likely to cause health problems. Their small size allows these particles to get into the deep part of your lungs. Being exposed to any kind of particulate matter may cause

Middle-aged woman using asthma inhaler

  • increased emergency department visits and hospital stays for breathing and heart problems,
  • breathing problems,
  • asthma symptoms to get worse,
  • adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight,
  • decreased lung growth in children,
  • lung cancer, and
  • early deaths.

Sensitive people, including older adults, people with diseases such as asthma or congestive heart disease, and children, are more likely to be affected by contact with PM2.5.