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Pollutant Fact Files

Look up the fact files about these nasty pollutants!

  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Ozone
  • Particulate matter
  • Sulphur dioxide

Particulate Matter - PM10

Particulate matter

PM 10 is a pollutant made up of tiny, tiny particles. They can occur naturally in dust storms and volcanoes, but the main sources in Northern Ireland are road vehicles and industry.

PM 10 stands for Particulate Matter less than 10 microns in diameter - that's small, very small (there are 1000 microns in a millimetre!). These particles could be made up of lots of different things - for example soot from car exhausts or chimneys, soil, sea salt, chemicals such as sulphates and nitrates or even dust from a building site.

The problem with PM 10 is that the particles are so small we can breathe them in. They can travel deep into our lungs and cause irritation and damage. People who already have a  heart or lung disease may find this sort of pollution makes their problem worse.

Particles that are bigger than ten microns across tend to get trapped naturally in our noses or throats, before they get into our lungs. That’s what the little hairs in our nose help with.