Infographic: What is fine particulate matter (PM2.5)?

What is fine particulate matter (PM2.5)?

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Fine Particulate Matter (also known as PM2.5) are particles in the air that measure less than 2.5 micrometers (μm) in diameter, and typically consists of a mix of things like smoke, soot, liquid or solid particles in aerosol, or biological matter like mould, bacteria, pollen and animal dander. PM2.5 poses a risk to your health because, when inhaled, it can travel deeply into your lungs.

Indoor sources of PM2.5

  • Burning candles and incense
  • Re-suspended particles
  • Hobbies like woodworking
  • Fireplaces
  • Wood stoves
  • Gas stoves
  • Furnaces
  • Cooking
  • Tobacco smoke

Infiltration from outdoors

  • Vehicle emissions
  • Industry
  • Wood burning

Who is at greatest risk?

  • People with existing lung and heart conditions
  • Children
  • Seniors

Health effects of PM2.5

  • Eye, nose, throat and lung irritation
  • Wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath
  • Decreased lung function
  • Aggravation of lung and heart conditions like asthma and heart disease

How to reduce your risk?

  • Remove and control sources
    • Keep your home smoke free
    • Ensure fuel burning appliances are properly installed and maintained
    • Move dusty work outside
    • Use a vacuum with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter
    • Reduce the use of candles and incense
    • Do not idle your vehicle in your garage or near entrances to your home
  • Ventilate your home
    • Open windows
    • If you have a mechanical ventilation system, use it to bring in fresh air
  • Filter the air with an in-duct filter for your furnace or a portable air cleaner with a HEPA filter
  • Use range hood on highest setting when cooking

On days when outdoor pollution is high, opening windows might not improve the air quality indoors.

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