Particulate Matter

Why are different sizes of particulate matter measured?

Different sizes of particulate matter are found to have drastically different effects on an individual’s health. Particulate matter that is less than 10 micrometers (PM10) has been found to easily enter deep into lungs contributing to respiratory ailments. A coarse dust particle (PM10) refers to particulate matter between 2.5 micrometers and 10 micrometers. PM10 can originate from crushing or grinding operations and dust stirred up by vehicles on roads. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is 2.5 micrometers or less. It can penetrate the respiratory system deeper than coarse particulate and may pass into the bloodstream. Sources of PM2.5 relate to any process involving combustion of wood, agriculture, gas, coal and more.

What Health effects can Particulate Matter have on me?

Fugitive dust and particulate matter have been linked to health problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease. Particulate matter can cause temporary irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Other symptoms than can be felt are tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, coughing, and phlegm. Those with pre-existing respiratory conditions may experience asthma attacks, wheezing, or abnormal fatigue.

Who is most affected by Particulate Matter?

Populations that are most affected by fugitive dust and particulate matter are those with heart or lung disease, aged 14 and under, aged 65 and over, the frequently active, exercisers, and recent studies suggest those with diabetes. Studies have shown that older adults are more likely to be hospitalized during high particulate levels and are at a greater risk of dying from aggravated heart or lung disease. Adults breathe an average of 15,000 liters of air per day while children breathe 50 percent more than an adult of the same weight. Not only do children breathe more than an adult but they are more at risk of respiratory illness since their lungs are still developing. Those whom exercise or do strenuous work breathe more air, up to 20% more air than at rest, and allows for circulation in the lungs to penetrate deeper. Not only are those whom exercise and do strenuous activity breathing more but they are also most likely breathing in through their mouths rather than their nose, a natural filter, thus inhaling even more particulate matter and pollutants.

How many people are considered at risk to be affected by Particulate Matter in Ohio’s Medina, Portage, and Summit Counties?

The American Lung Association’s 2015 State of the Air report, based upon data from the EPA and US Census, looks at three air quality variables and shows each individual U.S. Counties sensitive populations, total populations, and populations younger than 18, older than 65 and by various health complication. The three air quality variables utilized are ozone, 24-hour particulate matter (PM) showing short-term exposure, collected twice daily (once at 8 am and again at 4pm), and annual averages of particulate matter showing yearly exposure. These variables are then graded A-F or pass/fail based upon the measurement of PM in micrograms per cubic meter of air. Below is a summary of the findings from the American Lung Association’s 2015 State of the Air Report:

  • Medina County
    • Particle Pollution Grade: 24 hr — A
    • Annual Average — Incomplete
    • Total Population — 174,035
    • At Risk Population
      • Pediatric Asthma — 4,080
      • Adult Asthma — 12,898
      • COPD — 5,846
      • Cardiovascular Disease — 13,919
      • Diabetes — 14,131
  • Portage County
    • Particle Pollution Grade: 24 hr — A
    • Annual Average — Pass
    • Total Population — 163,862
    • At Risk Population
      • Pediatric Asthma — 3,082
      • Adult Asthma — 12,941
      • COPD — 10,484
      • Cardiovascular Disease — 12,368
      • Diabetes — 12,707
  • Summit County
    • Particle Pollution Grade: 24 hr — A
    • Annual Average — Pass
    • Total Population — 541,824
    • At Risk Population
      • Pediatric Asthma — 11,529
      • Adult Asthma — 41,069
      • COPD — 35,709
      • Cardiovascular Disease — 43,965
      • Diabetes — 44,518