Airborne Particulate Matter: Human Exposure and Health Effects

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Objective: Exposure to airborne particulate matter (PM) is estimated to cause millions of premature deaths annually. This work conveys known routes of exposure to PM and resultant health effects. Methods: A review of available literature. Results: Estimates for daily PM exposure are provided. Known mechanisms by which insoluble particles are transported and removed from the body are discussed. Biological effects of PM, including immune response, cytotoxicity, and mutagenicity, are reported. Epidemiological studies that outline the systemic health effects of PM are presented. Conclusion: While the integrated, per capita, exposure of PM for a large fraction of the first-world may be less than 1mg per day, links between several syndromes, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, loss of cognitive function, anxiety, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension, stroke, and PM exposure have been suggested. This article reviews and summarizes such links reported in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-423
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • PM10
  • PM2.5
  • aerosol
  • health effects of pollution
  • immune response
  • inflammation
  • particulate matter


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