In a 2019 air pollution report published by the American Thoracic Society (ATS): “Trends in Excess Morbidity and Mortality Associated with Air Pollution above ATS-Recommended Standards, 2008 to 2017,” researchers gathered information indicating that mortality impacts of PM2.5 pollution dropped by almost half during the recent past decade.
However, improvements occurred only as far as PM2.5 is concerned, as O3 or “bad ozone” pollution remained doggedly high at levels that still adversely impact human and animal health.
Even if the country saw a decline in the number of deaths and serious illnesses associated with air pollution during the past decade, the lowered mortality impact of the PM2.5 improvements went on a leveling off course by 2017, The year saw PM2.5 rising above recommended levels, which caused an increase of 5,600 morbidities. On the other hand, O3 or ground-level ozone, which constantly remained above recommended levels brought on 10,080 morbidities.
The ATS warns that if federal and local governments will not apply further efforts to reduce the PM2.5 and O3 occurring in the Earth’s atmosphere, adverse health impacts are likely to increase over time, since growth in population will also transpire.
What Exactly is PM2.5 and Why is It Harmful?
PM stands for particulate matter. When such matter measures a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometer, it is labeled as PM2.5. Described as small and light, PM2.5 pollution becomes detrimental to human health when the air breathed in contains high levels of PM2.5. Level elevations tend to occur during days when there is little or no wind at all.
Inasmuch as PM2.5 pollutants are so minute and light, they linger longer in the air if compared to heavier pollutant matters. Increased levels of PM2.5 beyond the ATS’ recommended level of 11 micrograms/cu.m. yearly concentrations and 25 micrograms/cu.m. for short-term concentrations, correspondingly increase the chances of particles entering and clogging human and animal respiratory systems.
Aside from penetrating the lungs, the minuteness of PM2.5 makes it possible for the pollutant matter to also enter the circulatory system. The link between excessive PM2.5 levels and health problems is that they are known to trigger or aggravate chronic illnesses of asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory disorders, and even heart ailments.
What Exactly is O3 and Why is It Harmful?
O3 is also known as ground-level ozone because it represents the layer of toxic gaseous substances created by the chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and compositions of volatile organic compounds when occurring in the presence of sunlight.
Ground-level ozone is branded as bad ozone because when breathed in, it is capable of triggering or aggravating an assortment of health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, throat irritation, cough, congestion and chest pain. Constant exposure to ground-level ozone can also permanently damage or scar tissues due to impaired lung function and repeated inflammation of lung linings.