Why Does 'Particulate Matter' Matter?

For nations in the Northern Hemisphere, we can expect July and August to be the hottest and driest months. Fire danger warnings increase and vast areas become vulnerable to wildfires. This can mean heavy smoke and smog, and here are three reports we should remember as we plan our activities.

Particulate Matter and Diabetes 

In a study published in The Lancet this week, investigators shared an analysis that connected air pollution sourced particulate matter to type 2 diabetes. This study strongly supports how the disease risk is increased because of outdoor and indoor air pollution.

The researchers estimated that nearly 20% of type 2 diabetes-related impacts could be connected to air pollution from particulate matter, and suggested that strategies for reducing the disease worldwide should includes ways to decrease air pollution exposure.

To read the study, click here.

Connecting Air Pollution to Brain Disease

On June 22, 2022, a study that investigated how air pollution may impact brain disorders was published in the PNAS journal. Researchers found that fine particulate matter collected in the air was also present in the cerebrospinal fluid of people with brain disorders. 

The researchers tracked fine particles in mice, arguing that these same toxins could also travel from within human lungs into the blood, and then across the blood-brain barrier. This barrier is a line of defense that protects the brain from harmful toxins and relatively large compounds.

Particulate matter from air pollution has been shown to cause disorders in lung and heart tissue. The study reveals how pollution-sourced particles are also able to cross and impact the brain and related cerebral tissue.

To read the full article, click here.

Alaska's Fire Season to Hit New Highs

More than 1 million acres burned in June, and more than 2 million have burned in July. These are more than double the size the state usually sees during its wildfire season. A warm spring, low levels of precipitation and snow, and a high number of lightning strikes have contributed to raising the state's wildfires.

Cities like Nome saw particulate matter levels go beyond 600 parts per million (ppm). When it comes to those high levels of fine particulate matter, impacts can trigger damage to the lungs and asthma attacks. Fine particulate matter levels of 150 ppm are usually considered unhealthy, and more than 400 ppm is considered hazardous.

To review the article in The Conversation, click here.

Reduce Exposure - It Matters

We can't escape the fact that rising pollution levels, poor air quality, and the worries of particulate matter are now an important part of our lives. As discussed in our other post, High Levels of PM2.5 In the Air, we can take a few steps toward ensuring we reduce our exposure to harm. These include:

  • Stay indoors in an area with filtered air. Consider getting an ozone-free air purifier if you live in a room with a high PM concentration.

  • Keep activity levels low. Limit activities that make you breathe faster or deeper.

  • Limit indoor activities that can increase pollution. Avoid lighting your wood fireplace, candles or incense, and vacuuming (unless your vacuum uses a HEPA filter and is replaced regularly). 

Worried about air quality?

Monitor the Particulate Matter levels around the world with our free, real-time PurpleAir Map. or join PurpleAir's mission to make air quality data accessible to everyone by investing in an air quality monitor for your home. 

Together, we can be informed and make changes in our daily habits and the community to improve air quality.