What is Particulate Matter?
Particulate matter pollution (PM), also known as particle pollution or soot, is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Particulate matter is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small, they can only be detected using an electron microscope.
Where Does it Come From?
Particulate matter can come in many sizes and shapes and can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals. Some particles, known as primary particles, are emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires. Others form in complicated reactions in the atmosphere between chemicals such as sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides that are emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles. These particles, known as secondary particles, make up most of the fine particulate matter in the country.
For more information on particulate matter, please visit the Particulate Matter Lesson.
The West Michigan Clean Air Coalition is a partnership of businesses, academic institutions, government agencies, industry, and non-profit organizations in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, and Kalamazoo counties working together to achieve cleaner air in the region through the education and promotion of voluntary emission reduction activities.
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