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What are the health effects of PM10?





It is not so clear what the effect of the chemical composition of particulate matter on public health is. Some people are more sensitive to particulate matter than others, but it is difficult to indicate in advance which people will suffer more. It is likely that at higher exposure levels and with greater sensitivity the health risk is greater.


PM10 daily concentrations in 2014
The small airborne particles enter in the lungs upon inhalation. Particles larger than 10 microns (one hundredth millimeters) are held by the nose and secreted through the mucosa. In the lungs, damage occurs, but the mechanism that causes this is not exactly known. The hypothesis is that the small particles cause inflammatory reactions which make oxygen uptake difficult. These inflammatory reactions, releasing radicals, are harmful to the heart. Particulate matter may also cause the blood to become more viscous, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Neurological effects of particulate matter have been found, which could negatively affect cardiac muscle function. Finally, radicals are associated with early aging.

Vulnerable groups are especially elderly people and people with heart, vascular or lung disease.


Epidemiological and toxicological studies indicate that many people die early due to short-term exposure to particulate matter. The mortality by chronic exposure may be a multiple of this. The duration of the reduction in life is probably short: a few days to months. Next to mortality, particulate matter also plays an important role in morbidity: exposure to particulate matter makes many people ill. In people with respiratory and cardiovascular disease, exposure to particulate matter exacerbates their symptoms. The disability-adjusted life years DALY measures both mortality and morbidity. For chronic exposure to PM10, the number of DALYs in the Netherlands is significant: between 7000 and 13000 per million inhabitants. That is roughly 5% of the total disease burden in the Netherlands. The Longfonds has conducted a social cost-benefit analysis (MKBA) which, based on the DALYs, showed that the social costs of particulate matter due to health damage are between € 4 and 40 billion a year. Comparison: for € 4 billion Approximately 8 million soot filters are mounted.

Studies indicate that there is no safe lower limit on exposure to particulate matter: no matter how small the exposure is, there is always a measurable harmful effect on health. The current standards are therefore a compromise between health interests and socio-economic interests.

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Insight in Air Quality | Air quality, health and environment: What are the health effects of PM10?
What are the health effects of PM10?
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