So, just how dangerous is PM10?
According to the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the standard for average exposure to polluted air particles over 24 hours is 150 micrograms per cubic meter. The EPA standard for average annual exposure is 50 micrograms per cubic meter.
At moderate PM10 levels i.e, 51-100 μg/m3 over 24 hours the polluted air can cause breathing discomfort to people with lung diseases such as asthma. It can also cause discomfort to the general public.
Meanwhile, at higher than the standard levels, i.e, 101-150 μg/m3 over 24 hours, the polluted air can lead to respiratory symptoms and breathing difficulty in people with lung disease, older adults and children.
At very unhealthy levels, 151-250 μg/m3 over 24 hours, the polluted air can lead to significant increase in respiratory effects and even premature mortality in people with lung disease and older adults. In addition to this, living in cities with highly polluted air can significantly increase respiratory diseases in the general public.
Long term exposure to PM10 is also known to cause lung cancer.