What is PM10?
“PM”, Particulate Matter, is not a single pollutant, but refers to a complex mixture of solids and aerosols of varying shape, size, and chemical composition and may contain many chemical species like organic compounds, inorganic ions, metallic compounds, elementary carbon, etc. So, these atmospheric particles are defined by their diameter for air quality regulatory purposes.
The inhalable particles that are less than or equal to 10 micrometers in diameter are collectively known as PM10, they tend to settle as they are heavier. Once released, they stay in the air for minutes or hours and travel as little as 100 meters to 50 kilometers. Also, examples of such coarse particles include construction dust, pollen, mold, etc.
Particulate matter PM10 is either directly emitted from a source (primary PM) or is formed through the chemical reactions of gases such as oxides of sulfur (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), organic compounds, etc. in the atmosphere (secondary PM). Whereas, the natural sources of particulate matter are wind-blown dust from open land, pollen, spores, mold, dirt, soil erosion, and forest fires. Meanwhile, anthropogenic sources of PM10 include:
- Burning fossil fuels such as gasoline, oil, diesel, or wood,
- Also, waste burning activities
- Dust emitted from unpaved and also the paved roads
- Crushing and grinding of rocks
- Also, uncontrolled construction activities
- Dust from factories, agriculture, and also from landfills
- Emission from energy supply and industrial processes
- Metal and steel production as well as the reloading of bulk material
- Also, wear and tear of brakes and tires of vehicles
- Also, organic compounds released from industrial processes and motor vehicle exhaust
Permissible levels of PM10
The breakpoint concentrations describing the quality of air based on the PM10 concentrations for different countries are given below. In India, the daily average PM10 levels of up to 100 μg/m3 are considered satisfactory. The Air quality guidelines by the World Health Organization suggest a 24-hr mean of 50 μg/m3.
Breakpoints of PM10 (μg/m3)
Table: Breakpoints of PM10 (μg/m3)
|India (24-hr)||US (24-hr)||China (24-hr)||EU (8-hr)|
|AQI Category||Breakpoint concentration||AQI Category||Breakpoint concentration||AQI Category||Breakpoint concentration||AQI Category||Breakpoint concentration|
|Moderately polluted||250||Unhealthy for sensitive||250||Lightly Polluted||250||Medium||50|
|Very Poor||430||Very Unhealthy||420||Heavily Polluted||420||Very high||100+|
Health & Environmental Impact of PM10
The potential of particulate matter to affect human health depends directly on the size of particulate matter. The particles with < 10μm diameter generally pass through the nose and throat and enter the lung. PM10, although being less of an immediate health concern than PM2.5 due to its size, is still small enough to pass through the nose and throat and enter the lungs.
When inhaled, PM10 deposits on the surface of the airways in the upper region of the lung, inducing tissue damage, and lung inflammation. It can irritate the nose, throat, and even eyes, short-term exposure to PM10 aggravates already present respiratory diseases such as asthma while long-term exposure can affect respiratory mortality. Sensitive groups of people such as children, elderly with chronic heart or lung disease, or people suffering from asthma are more susceptible to adverse health effects of particulate exposure.
The major environmental impacts of PM10 pollution are visibility reduction and deposition. Whereas, high levels of PM10 cause visible air pollution affecting the aesthetics of the surrounding environment. Additionally, the settling of the air-borne PM10 on plants, soil, and water ecosystems has harmful effects on them. The metal and organic compounds reduce plant growth and yield while the deposition of PM into water bodies affects its quality and clarity.
Atmospheric particles also affect the heating and cooling of the atmosphere. Some components of PM such as black carbon promote climate warming while some components such as sulfates and nitrates have cooling properties.
Possible corrective measures
The primary step is PM10 monitoring to identify the areas with high particulate levels or areas where air quality does not meet the PM10 national standards, In addition to this, the following corrective measures can be taken:
- Limit outdoor activities and close windows and vents during times of high air pollution.
- Avoid keeping your vehicle idle for so long.
- Avoid areas with traffic congestions, construction activities, or unpaved roads, breathing such polluted air daily also leads to health effects in the long run.
- Also, eliminate the use of the fireplace, wood stove, gas-powered lawn, or garden equipment.
- And also eliminate open burning of leaves, trash, or other materials
Measurement methods of PM10 monitoring
Different working principles for particulate matter monitoring in the ambient environment are Gravimetric, TOEM, Beta Attenuation (BAM), and also Laser scattering
High-volume Gravimetric Method
The PM10 monitors based on the gravimetric principle takes in the ambient air for 24 hours at a constant flow rate through a size-selective inlet that only allows particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 10µm or less to pass through. Also, the collection of the particulate matter is on a pre-weighed filter at constant temperature and humidity conditions. Then after the 24-hour sampling period, the filter is conditioned again under the same temperature-humidity conditions and reweighted. Therefore, The difference in the weight corresponds to the mass collected on the filter, which along with known flow rate, sampling period, and the total volume of the air sampled is used to calculate the PM10 concentration.
Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance (TOEM)
It is a proprietary system for particulate matter monitoring, subsequently, the PM10 monitors based on TOEM determine the PM10 concentration by continuously weighing the particulates deposited on the filter attached to a hollow tapered element that oscillates in an applied electric field. Also, the oscillating frequency decreases with the accumulation of particulates on the filters. As a result thermal mass flow controllers constantly control and measure the flowrate of the PM10 monitor which along with the mass concentration, temperature, and other factors is used to continuously calculate the PM10 concentrations.
Beta Attenuation Monitor (BAM)
The PM10 monitoring based on the BAM principle measures the particle mass density using beta radiation attenuation, the particulates in the ambient air drawn into the PM10 monitor are deposited on a paper-band filter and exposed to beta rays (i.e. electrons with energies in the 0.01 to 0.1 MeV range) which get attenuated as a function of the particulate mass. As a result, the beta count reduces with an increase in the PM10 mass and is recorded by the detector and converted to concentration.
The PM10 monitor based on the physical principle of light scattering, also known as optical particle counter (OPC), measures dust particles illuminated by laser light at a 90° angle. Whereas, the light scattered from each particle is collected at approximately 90° by a mirror and detected by a photo-diode. This signal is then fed into a multi-channel size classifier where a pulse height analyzer is used to classify each pulse that is proportional to the particle size. As a result, the counts in the channel corresponding to PM10 are converted to the concentration of PM10.
Among all the above principles of PM10 monitoring, PM monitors based on laser scattering are typically found to be preferred for ambient air monitoring because they yield quick and accurate measurements and are inexpensive in cor
Oizom’s working principle for PM10 monitoring
Oizom’s DUSTROID is an online particulate monitoring system that measures the concentration of various particulate sizes ranging from 1 micron to 100 microns such as PM1, PM2.5, PM10, and PM100 in the ambient air. Our PM sensor works on the principle of laser scattering hence, the active sampling-powered sensor-based air quality monitor DUSTROID is deployed across several cities, campuses, universities. They are also used for drawing actionable insights to tackle the rise in ambient PM2.5 concentrations. Also, refer to case studies on air pollution for more information.
5 reasons why PM10 monitoring is important:
- PM10 is a complex mixture of solid and aerosols of very small size that can easily pass through the nose and throat and also penetrate the lungs.
- Particulate matter is emitted into the atmosphere from processes such as combustion processes, cruising or grinding of rocks, resuspension of dust and dirt from roads, soil, etc. They also form into the atmosphere from various chemical reactions of other air pollutants such as NOx and SOx.
- When inhaled, it irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and airways and can also lead to aggravation of respiratory diseases.
- PM10 monitoring is an efficient way to detect high concentrations of particulate matter and also prevent high-level exposures.
- Real-time monitoring of PM10 levels helps in calculating the air quality index to deliver health advisories as well as formulating an action plan to meet standards.