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Particle pollution (also called particulate matter or PM) is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. 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. Particle pollution includes inhalable coarse particles, with diameters larger than 2.5 micrometers and smaller than 10 micrometers and fine particles, with diameters that are 2.5 micrometers and smaller. How small is 2.5 micrometers? Think about a single hair from your head. The average human hair is about 70 micrometers in diameter -- making it 30 times larger than the largest fine particle. These particles 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 of 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 particle pollution in the country.
Fine particulates (PM-2.5) are generally emitted from activities such as industrial and residential combustion and from vehicle exhaust. Fine particles are also formed in the atmosphere when gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds, emitted by combustion activities, are transformed by chemical reactions in the air. Large-scale agricultural burning or sand storms can produce huge volumes of fine particulates. PM-2.5 data is the near real-time measurement of particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in size from the surrounding air. This measurement is made at local conditions, and is not corrected for temperature or pressure.
Use the controls below to select a different date or parameter and to control cell highlighting based on measured PM-2.5 (Local Conditions) levels. Click on the Generate Report button once you have made your selections.Click on the Plot Data button once the tabular report has been generated to open a separate window containing data plots.