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Eur Respir J. 2005 Aug;26(2):309-18.

Epidemiological evidence of effects of coarse airborne particles on health.

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  • 1Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, PO Box 80176, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Studies on health effects of airborne particulate matter (PM) have traditionally focused on particles <10 microm in diameter (PM10) or particles <2.5 microm in diameter (PM2.5). The coarse fraction of PM10, particles >2.5 microm, has only been studied recently. These particles have different sources and composition compared with PM2.5. This paper is based on a systematic review of studies that have analysed fine and coarse PM jointly and examines the epidemiological evidence for effects of coarse particles on health. Time series studies relating ambient PM to mortality have in some places provided evidence of an independent effect of coarse PM on daily mortality, but in most urban areas, the evidence is stronger for fine particles. The few long-term studies of effects of coarse PM on survival do not provide any evidence of association. In studies of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and respiratory admissions, coarse PM has a stronger or as strong short-term effect as fine PM, suggesting that coarse PM may lead to adverse responses in the lungs triggering processes leading to hospital admissions. There is also support for an association between coarse PM and cardiovascular admissions. It is concluded that special consideration should be given to studying and regulating coarse particles separately from fine particles.

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