Tiny particles known as PM 2.5 are heavy in the skies of Japan now.
According to the New York State Department of Health, particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) "refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width. Like inches, meters and miles, a micron is a unit of measurement for distance. There are about 25,000 microns in an inch. The widths of the larger particles in the PM2.5 size range would be about thirty times smaller than that of a human hair. The smaller particles are so small that several thousand of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence."
These particles are able to enter deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. "Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Scientific studies have linked increases in daily PM2.5 exposure with increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, emergency department visits and deaths. Studies also suggest that long term exposure to fine particulate matter may be associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. People with breathing and heart problems, children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM2.5."
In Kyoto, yesterday, the city's measure of the particles stood at 63 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3), which is above the limit the city considers safe for health. Out in rural Kyoto, the city of Fukuchiyama hit 103 at 11 am.
Much of the pollution is thought to be emanating from factories and automobiles in China.
Uncomfortable? Yes. Weird looking? Probably. However, we are wearing the mask when we cycle now.
Otenki Navigator (Weather Navigator) gives updates on the level of PM 2.5. Click on 健康／生活 and then on the PM link.
Source: Kyoto Shinbun
Tags Japan Touring Kyoto Cycle Japanese