The demand for energy, transportation and infrastructural development is constantly increasing. As to manufacture and production in these fields increase, so does the pollution levels. It is also well known that air pollution has various ill effects on human life and can cause long term, chronic health problems and affect human well-being. Among all the air pollutants that are present, particulate matter is the most concerning on and is increasing at alarming rates. Particulate matter can broadly be classified as PM2.5 and PM10 based on the diameter of the particulate matter.
Since both types of particulate matter are very small, they can easily penetrate deep into the lungs and mix in with the blood stream. Continuous exposure to high levels of particulate matter and lead to various cardiovascular as well as pulmonary diseases. Hence the need and importance of monitors to measure and take corrective actions for excessive particulate matter has increased.
According to the USEPA, particulate matter refers to a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets that are commonly found in the air due to pollution. They can either be visible to the human eye, like dust and dirt or may be so small that they can be captured only with a microscope. The health hazards caused by the particulate matter may be very intense and hence monitoring the specific types becomes extremely crucial. A combination of the visible particulate matter and invisible particulate matter are together responsible for a majority of the air pollution problems faced.
PM10 and PM2.5 have less than an aerodynamic diameter of 10 micrometers and 2.5 micrometers respectively, hence, all combustion activities from vehicles forest fires, construction and manufacturing sites all contribute as a significant source of particulate matter.
Secondary complex reactions with other pollutants such as sulfur di oxide and nitrogen oxides which are commonly found an also contribute to particulate matter. Mining activities, unpaved roads and dust emissions are also included in particulate matter pollution. Thus, it is crucial to monitor and quantify the sources of particulate matter and it distribution in order to successfully control its levels.
It is also very important to formulize their particle diameter to develop control standards based on the particulate matter. Studies show that the general particulate matter diameter ranges from 2.5 to 10 micrometers and the particulate matter monitors try to identify them between these ranges. These devices fulfill the requirement of measuring particulate matter concentration. But only the development of particulate matter monitors does not solve the actual problem of pollution caused by it. Monitoring the particulate matter concentration serves as a basis for pollution control strategies that can be employed. It enables us to track the actual progress of mitigation and change the policies if existing strategies are ineffective. Information from these particulate matter monitors help in reducing the exposure to PM2.5 and PM10.
The main factors that influence the air pollution levels in a place are topography, metrological conditions and geography. The extent of pollution may differ from one place to another due to a difference in in these primary region specific factors. Hence, it is important to define the pollution problem in a region individually to reduce he concentration levels of particulate matter. Monitoring these levels also helps in creating and maintaining long term analysis.
Recent studies show that the particulate matter levels are constantly increasing and cities are exceeding their given standards. The increase in this pollution causes an increase in the number of health hazards and complications due to increasing particulate matter pollution. A detailed particulate matter monitoring system plays a major role in analyzing and assessing the increasing rates of pollution in cities and industrial areas.
Day to day activities of humans that are a part of our routines constantly add to the levels of particulate matter which make this pollution a global issue. Studies conducted by the World Health Organization shows that 9 out of 10 people are breathing highly contaminated air which is dominant of particulate matter.as a result the deaths caused by air pollution are also constantly on the rise.
Not only this, air pollution also leads to loss of productivity which leads to a reduction in overall economic growth. Expenditure in health care is also steadily rising and is directly related to the rise in pollution levels. Particulate matter monitoring devices help in providing a crucial dataset to develop relationships and analysis between pollution levels and other factors. These comparisons furthers helps us understand the reduction of particulate matter to economic factors.
Installing good monitors helps a country calculate its return on investment on the particulate matter pollution control equipment installed and the feasibility of the pollution control plans. Capacity building by increasing the number of particulate matter monitors will improve productivity and reduce the health care spending by citizens.
In India, the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme has identified the limitation of not spending enough on particulate matter monitoring. There are various national targets to achieve the desired levels of air cleanliness that are set as national goals and tried to be maintained in the long run as sustainable solutions.
Various studies also show that the benefits of reducing air pollution will be much more than the cost of setting up appropriate equipment and measuring devices. Pollution caused by particulate matter has now become a global issue as concentration levels have been increasing at alarming rates in the past few years. There are various international agreements that imply deadly health hazards and economic disruptions due to particulate matter pollution.
Studies also show that in India, over 1 million people lost their lives prematurely due to particulate matter pollution. It is next to impossible to manage particulate matter if it is not measured properly itself.
Hence, in totality, measuring the particulate matter in the air at any given time and storing this information properly will give vital information on the success or failure of pollution control techniques are employed and compare it with past records and enhance it for better future results.