Particulate matter (PM) is a class of air pollution covering everything in the atmosphere that isn’t a gas. This includes a huge range of chemical compounds and materials which air quality experts classify in terms of their particle size.
What is PM10?
Particulate matter containing particles with a diameter of 10 micrometres or smaller. Examples include fumes from traffic and industrial processes.
What are the Other Types of Particular Matter?
PM1 – Particulate matter containing particles with a diameter of 1 micrometre or smaller. Examples include smoke, bacteria, and pollen.
PM2.5 – Particulate matter containing particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or smaller. Examples include dust and pet dander.
You can read our full guide to PM2.5 and the risks it brings.
In this post we’ll explore PM10 – its causes, its risks, and how to manage them.
Where Does PM10 Come From?
A major source of PM10 is the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons, including coal, wood, diesel, and agricultural waste. The majority of atmospheric PM10 in the UK comes from domestic wood burning, road traffic (particularly diesel cars), vehicle tyre wear, and combustion in the manufacturing sector.
If hydrocarbons undergo complete combustion, they create carbon dioxide and water. But if the air supply is poor during the combustion process, it can create more harmful by-products, including carbon monoxide and carbon particles.
Other sources of PM10 include dust from construction sites, industrial and agricultural combustion, and landfills. Natural sources of PM10 include pollen, bacteria fragments, and fumes from wildfires.
You can read a complete summary of the causes and relative concentrations of PM10 in this government report.
What Are The Risks of PM10 Air Pollution?
The risks of exposure to PM10 can be divided into the short-term exposure effects and long-term exposure effects.
Effects of Short-Term Exposure to PM10
Short-term exposure to PM10 air pollution can aggravate existing conditions, including asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions. So PM10 air pollution can pose a particular risk to hospitals.
Not only can it have a negative impact on existing staff and patient health, it can also lead to additional hospitalisations. At a time when the NHS is struggling to manage a huge backlog, anything that could potentially add to the backlog must be treated as a significant threat.
Effects of Long-Term Exposure to PM10
Long-term exposure to PM10 air pollution can lead to serious – even terminal – lung diseases, including lung cancer. Also, PM10 air pollution can include bacteria fragments, and even some viruses. So PM10 air pollution can also carry an infection risk.
Managing the Risks of PM10 Air Pollution at Your Hospital
The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 require that concentrations of PM10 in the UK must not exceed an annual average of 40µg/m³. The latest government report indicates that PM10 emissions have fallen significantly in the past 30 years.
Nonetheless, any concentrations of PM10 and other forms of air pollution can pose a considerable risk to vulnerable people. So if your hospital’s located near a main road, a construction site, or any commercial, industrial or agricultural processing location, then you should take steps to manage your onsite air pollution levels:
- Enforce strict speed limits on your hospital grounds, and try to limit the amount of traffic you allow onsite. You can read our full guide to how speed limits can have a positive impact on air quality.
- Monitor the air quality in public areas of your hospital, particularly areas with doors or windows that open out onto main roads. Also monitor the air quality in places where your most vulnerable patients gather, such as children, elderly people, and people with heart and lung conditions. Read our full guide to air quality monitoring in hospitals.
- Install an advanced air filtration system for your hospital.
Fast and Effective Air Filtration Solutions for Hospitals
The BlueAir HealthProtect™ air purifiers are fitted with advanced HEPASilent filters. This means they’re capable of catching and destroying 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns in size. So they can filter the harmful PM10 particles from the atmosphere, as well as PM2.5 particles, VOCs, dust, mould, and up to 99% of viruses and bacteria.
Browse our complete range of specialist air purifiers for healthcare settings.