AIR & HEAVY METALS
Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5)
A PM2.5 Sampler
New Mexico measures Particulate Matter. Particulate matter (PM) consists of very small liquid and solid particles. Particulate Matter is a kind of pollution that consists of things floating in the air. Most of the PM floating in the air you cannot see. PM found in the air include these very small liquid and solid particles we commonly know as dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. PM can cause such physical responses as coughing, sneezing, painful breathing and can aggravate asthma. Particulate Matter may be the air pollutant that affects people's health more often than any other.
The filter weighing rooms are climate controlled and static controlled.
The Federal Agency The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets air quality standards for particulate matter (PM). The EPA defines the maximum amount of airborne particles that can be present in outdoor air before those particles threaten the public's health. EPA regulates two size groups or classes of particles - particles up to and including 10 microns across (PM10) and particles up to and including 2.5 microns across in size (PM2.5). Each of these groups is measured in microns or micrometers (a micron is one-millionth of a meter). Plant and animal cells range in size from 10 microns to 100 microns. PM10 and PM2.5 are each expressed as the amount, based on weight (in micrograms) of particles contained in a cubic meter of air, micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). PM2.5 particles are smaller than PM10 and are considered a subset of PM10. For further information see the EPA website for basic information: http://www.epa.gov/air/particlepollution/basic.html.
PM 10 balance.
Particulate matter (PM) is a mix of the two classes of particles with the PM2.5 more common for most US cities. This mix varies by day and time of day. These particles vary in shape, size and chemical composition, and can be made up of many different materials such as metals, soot, soil and dust. Particulate Matter is most often from the burning of fuels, such as gasoline from cars, oil, diesel, or wood. In New Mexico we also include oil and gas refining. Wind-blown dust, which is common in the spring in New Mexico, also contributes to PM10 pollution.
Visibility is monitored
Visibility in New Mexico can range from zero to more than 100 miles.
The EPA states:
"Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as "fine" particles and are believed to pose the greatest health risks. Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs."
Exposed PM2.5 filters are returned and conditioned in the weighing room.
Filters are conditioned prior to being weighed. The conditioning shelves contain the clean conditioning filters (filters to be weighed and sent out to be sampled), as well as the exposed (returned PM2.5 filters). Both are conditioned to the room environment for a period of time prior to being weighed.
PM2.5 can become deeply embedded in the lungs. The lung is not readily able to remove PM2.5 from the lung tissue; rather, those particles work deeper into the lungs. At times of high PM concentrations scientists have noted increased hospital, emergency room, and doctor's office activity for respiratory illnesses or heart disease. Also of note is the worsening of both asthma symptoms and acute and chronic bronchitis. Scientists have found a relationship between high PM levels and reductions in various aspects of the healthy functioning of people's lungs.
The EPA further states,
"Health studies have shown a significant association between exposure to fine particles and premature death. Other important effects include aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease (as indicated by increased hospital admissions, emergency room visits, absences from school or work, and restricted activity days), lung disease, decreased lung function, asthma attacks, and certain cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and irregular heartbeat. Individuals particularly sensitive to fine particle exposure include older adults, people with heart and lung disease, and children."
The elderly, children and those people with heart and/or lung diseases are particularly at risk to the harmful effects from high levels of PM exposure. Children are affected due to their size and development. Infants and children are affected from inhaling PM pollutants because they inhale more air per pound of body weight than do adults - they breathe faster, spend more time outdoors and have smaller body sizes. Infants, due to their immature immune systems may be more susceptible to PM than healthy adults.
For additional information see the EPA website, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF PARTICULATE MATTER : http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/naaqsfin/pmhealth.html
Federal Ambient Air Quality
Standards for Particulate Matter