What are fine particles?
- the “PM10”, which stands for “Particulate Matter”, whose diameter is less than 10 microns
- the “PM2,5”, which again stands for “Particulate Matter”, whose diameter is less than 2.5 microns.
- Ozone (O₃)
- Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂)
- Sulfur dioxide (SO₂)
DID YOU KNOW? 92% of the world's population live in locations where air quality levels do not meet the limits imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO). These are mainly developing countries.
Where do fine particles come from?
Fine particles are emitted naturally via soil erosion through winds, fires, volcanic eruptions, etc.
But human activities greatly increase their concentration:
- combustion of fossil fuels (petrol, diesel, oil, wood, coal, etc.) for the production of electricity, transport, heating
- waste incineration
- industrial activities related to cement production, casting, fine chemicals
- activities associated with the construction or agriculture industries.
What are the health risks associated with fine particles?
- acute or chronic respiratory diseases (bronchitis, asthma, lung cancer)
- cardiovascular diseases (stroke, myocardial infarction)
- neurological effects (decline of cognitive function, development of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, etc.)
- impacts on pregnancy, the foetus (premature birth, low birth weight, etc.)
- effects on the immune system
Since 2013, fine particulate matter and, more broadly, outdoor pollution have been classified as “carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).