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Industrial Smoke

Particulate Matter


For talking points about how fine particle pollution affects our health in Wisconsin, please click here.

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What is fine particulate matter?

  • Fine particulate matter, or soot, is an extremely dangerous pollutant, a deadly mix of metals, organic chemicals, and acidic substances that are so small they can be inhaled deeply into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

Where does particulate matter come from?

  • Particulate matter comes from many sources, including coal-fired power plants, vehicle exhaust, and other industrial processes.

What are the health effects of exposure to particulate matter?

  • Exposure to particulate matter causes increased infant mortality, cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, cognitive impairments, and premature death. Additionally, new studies have shown that even low levels of air pollution exposure, including to particulate matter, lead to increased risks of Covid-19 infection.

How does climate change affect fine particle pollution?

  • Heatwaves exacerbate the impact of fine particle pollution, as new research shows the risk of death increases up to 21% on days with both extreme heat and air pollution.

  • Though protecting public health fully justifies stronger particulate matter standards, strengthening these standards will also help us fight climate change. 

  • Particulate matter pollution is produced from burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change as well as to soot pollution. One study found that a specific form of particulate matter, called black carbon, is second only to carbon pollution in contributing to climate change.

I have additional questions, who can I talk to?

Interested in learning more? Below are some resources >>

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