What is PM2.5? Will it affect me?

What is PM2.5?

PM is an abbreviation for Particulate Matter. Basically, Particulate Matter or PM is a mix of all the solid and liquid “stuff” in the air. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay way up in the air, it eventually makes its way down to the ground and sometimes into our lungs and can affect us really badly.

PM is a mixture of natural “stuff” and man-made “stuff”. Some examples are dust, soot and sea spray. PM is given off during the combustion of solid and liquid fuels for the generation of power, and in your vehicle’s engine.

PM can vary in size, and for many years in Jamaica, NEPA has studied PM10 – particulate matter around 10 micrometres. The agency has spent time, money and training on setting up sites to study PM2.5 so that Jamaica can have a better understanding of its particulate matter. Such study is critical as “WHO Air Quality Guidelines” estimate that reducing annual average fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations from levels of 35 μg/m3, common in many developing cities, to the WHO guideline level of 10 μg/m3, could reduce air pollution-related deaths by around 15%.

As the name implies, PM2.5 looks at particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diametre. If you want look at a ruler, then look for a millimetre – then try and find 1/400th of 1 millimetre – and thats what PM2.5 looks like.

Will It Affect YOU? YES!!

During the Riverton Fire 2018, NEPA Reported that:

  1. “The levels of PM2.5 recorded were above the WHO 24-hour guideline limit (25μg/m3) for PM2.5.
  2. The highest average daily concentration of PM2.5 (40.58 μg/m3) recorded at the Spanish Town monitoring station was on day 3 of the fire, Tuesday, August 31 2018.
  3. This was 62% higher than the WHO guideline limit and is expected to have a negative impact on the population.
  4. At the Duhaney Park monitoring location, PM2.5 concentrations above the WHO 24-hour guideline limit was also recorded.
  5. The highest recorded concentration (43.28 μg/m3) was 73% above the WHO Guideline Limit for PM2.5.”

Effects of Acute Exposure

  • Exposure to high concentrations of PM (e.g. during short-term pollution episodes) exacerbate lung and heart conditions, significantly affecting quality of life, and increase deaths and hospital admissions.
  • Children, the elderly and those with predisposed respiratory and cardiovascular disease, are known to be more susceptible to the health impacts from air pollution.

Effect of Long-Term Exposure

  • WHO estimates that in 2016, some 58% of outdoor air pollution-related premature deaths were due to ischaemic heart disease and strokes, while 18% of deaths were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute lower respiratory infections respectively, and 6% of deaths were due to lung cancer.

Read more here and here.

Content Provided by: Mdk Advisory & Consulting Ltd., a strategic advisory firm offering a wide range of services to a cross-section of clients in the private, public and non-profit sectors