Ultrafine particulate air pollution may be worse than PM 2.5
posted: Nov 13, 2019.
If you follow my posts regarding air pollution, I often refer to PM 2.5 as the bad guy when it comes to air pollution. PM 2.5 is an air pollution particle that is 2.5 micrometers in diameter. It is many times thinner than the diameter of a human hair, and cannot be seen by the naked eye. The problem with this, is that it is so small that it can cross through cell membranes and cause damage throughout our bodies.
In the last decade, there have been increasing correlations and associations made between the growing incidence of neurodegenerative disorders, pulmonary disorders and cardiovascular disorders with worsening air quality.
The article below was recently published in Epidemiology( November 2019). It suggests that an increased incidence of ultrafine particulate matter, that is particles that are less than 1 micrometer in diameter, has a strong correlation with the incidence of brain tumors. The article goes on to say that PM 2.5 and NO2 (a common exhaust pollutant) is not correlated with brain tumors. Perhaps.....our measurement of PM 2.5 and it's correlation with degenerative disease is present because the PM 2.5 levels are representative of the ultrafine particulate matter that is also present.
Why is this? The smaller the particle, the easier it is to cross cell membranes and therefore impair cellular and ultimately organ function. These microscopic particles are small enough to carry carcinogens directly to the cells of organs like our brain, which may be why we are seeing an increased incidence of these neurodegenerative disorders and brain cancers.
Our local Clean Air Board Monitors PM 2.5. Disturbingly, the amount of ultrafine particulate matter is presumably much higher than PM 2.5, especially in close proximity to congested roads.
What can be done? Support organizations like your local clean air board, that work with local legislation to pass laws to clean up our air and educate our business and local community on clean air initiatives. Avoid exercising on busy streets and try not to live within 1/2 mile of a major interstate or highway. Keep your bedroom as a sleep sanctuary, and run air purifiers especially at night time.