Annual PM2.5 Level (Monitor only) Query Module Configuration Selection
OverviewFine particulate matter (PM,,2.5,,) is defined as particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers (Ám, or microns) in diameter. Because of its small size, PM,,2.5,, is able to get deep inside the lungs and cause a variety of symptoms such as painful breathing, chest tightness, headache, and coughing. PM,,2.5,, can exacerbate respiratory infections, trigger asthma attacks and symptoms, and cause temporary reductions in lung capacity. Respiratory symptoms are more likely to occur when PM,,2.5,, levels exceed the EPA's standard, but are possible when PM,,2.5,, levels are below the standard, especially in sensitive populations. PM,,2.5,, has been found in some studies to be associated with an increased risk of chronic lung disease^1^. The EPA recommends an average annual PM,,2.5,, level of less than 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
In addition to these adverse outcomes, PM,,2.5,, can influence the environment in ways that will eventually affect human health. Fine particles cause haze, which reduces visibility. The long-term effects of PM,,2.5,,, which settles in the soil, natural water sources, forests, and agricultural areas, are still being determined.
The impact of climate change on particulate matter is not certain, but research is underway to address these uncertainties. If precipitation events are seen to increase with climate change, it is reasonable to conclude that PM,,2.5,, levels may decrease due to precipitation "clearing" the air. PM,,2.5,, concentrations may also be affected by air stagnation events (i.e., inversions). If air stagnation events increase in frequency with climate change, PM,,2.5,, levels are likely to rise because these events trap the pollution at the Earth's surface^2^. More research is needed to accurately quantify to what extent PM,,2.5,, levels will be affected by a changing climate.
''1. Utah Department of Environmental Quality (2011). Choose clean air: particulate matter (PM,,10,, and PM,,2.5,,). Retrieved March 19, 2012 from the Division of Air Quality: [http://www.cleanair.utah.gov/pollutants/particulateMatter.htm] ''
''2. Jacob, (D.J. and Winner, D.A. (2009). Effect of climate change on air quality. Atmospheric Environment, 43(1), 51-63.McInerney, B. (2005). What will happen if snow melts earlier? (PowerPoint slides). Retrieved from Brian McInerney at firstname.lastname@example.org ''