Understanding Particle Pollution &  Health



Breathing in particle pollution can be harmful to your health. Coarse (bigger) particles, called PM10, can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. Dust from roads, farms, dry riverbeds, construction sites, and mines are types of PM10.


Fine (smaller) particles, called PM2.5, are more dangerous because they can get into the deep parts of your lungs — or even into your blood.


        The roads in the Southern Nicoya Peninsula contain both PM10 and PM2.5.


"I had a chest RX done a month and a half ago (following the process for my residency here in Australia) and I found out I have hilar adenopathy in the lungs, hilar adenopathy is an enlargement of the lymphatic nodules that surround the lung's hilars. It is an infection and apparently, it is the result of all the dust that I swallowed during those years living in the area." - Lila


    How can particle pollution affect my health?


Particle pollution can affect anyone, but it bothers some people more than others. People most likely to experience health effects caused by particle pollution include:

  • People with heart or lung diseases (for example, asthma)

  • Older adults

  • Babies and children


Particle pollution can also cause:

  • Eye irritation

  • Lung and throat irritation

  • Trouble breathing

  • Lung cancer

  • Problems with babies at birth (for example, low birth weight)



                    Heart Disease


If you have heart disease, breathing in particle pollution can cause serious problems like a heart attack. Symptoms include:

    • Chest pain or tightness

    • Fast heartbeat

    • Feeling out of breath

    • Being more tired than usual



Particulates are the deadliest form of air pollution 

due to their ability to penetrate deep into the lungs

and blood streams unfiltered, causing permanent 

DNA mutations, heart attacks and premature death.

What is Particulate Matter?


“Particulate” is a general name given to a tiny solid or liquid particle or piece of matter.  

 It usually refers to particles in the air (airborne particulates).


Where does Particulate Matter come from?


There are many sources for particulates in the air. Among them are soil, plants, fires, and road dust.


What are the possible health effects if I am exposed to Particulate Matter from road dust?


                                                                                                 The effects of inhaling particulate matter that have been widely studied in humans                                                                                                    and animals include asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory                                                                                                              diseases, premature delivery, birth defects, and premature death.  Asthmatic                                                                                                              episodes can occur in some people. Examples of allergic symptoms and signs include                                                                                              nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, coughing, runny eyes, throat irritation, rashes                                                                                                    and headaches. In severe allergic reactions, death can occur.  Some particulates such                                                                                              as silica and asbestos fibers can cause permanent lung damage, with symptoms and                                                                                                signs like coughing, chronic shortness of breath and fatigue.


In the past couple of years particulate matter has recieved media attention, concequential to the discovery of thousand of people dying young of particulate matter introduced health effects. This includes both short-term and long-term effects.


Particulate matter does not only cause health effects, it also plays a role in the greenhouse effect and global warming, because of its contribution to cloud formation.


 Increased levels of fine particles in the air as a result of anthropogenic particulate air pollution "is consistently and independently related to the most serious effects, including lung cancer and other cardiopulmonary mortality."


The large number of deaths and other health problems associated with particulate pollution was first demonstrated in the early 1970s and has been reproduced many times since. PM pollution is estimated to cause 22,000-52,000 deaths per year in the United States (from 2000) contributed to ~370,000 premature deaths in Europe during 2005 and 3.22 million deaths globally in 2010 per the global burden of disease collaboration.


A 2002 study indicated that PM2.5 leads to high plaque deposits in arteries, causing vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis — a hardening of the arteries that reduces elasticity, which can lead to heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.


A 2014 meta analysis reported that long term exposure to particulate matter is linked to coronary events. The study included 11 cohorts participating in the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE) with 100,166 participants, followed for an average of 11.5 years.


An increase in estimated annual exposure to PM 2.5 of just 5 µg/m3 was linked with a 13% increased risk of heart attacks.


 In 2013, the ESCAPE study involving 312,944 people in nine European countries revealed that there was no safe level of particulates, and that for every increase of 10 μg/m3 in PM10, the lung cancer rate rose 22%. For PM2.5 there was a 36% increase in lung cancer per 10 μg/m3.[5] In a 2014 metaanalysis of 18 studies globally including the ESCAPE data, for every increase of 10 μg/m3 in PM2.5, the lung cancer rate rose 9%.

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