"BRUSSELS -- Long-term exposure to fine particles of pollutants in the air can trigger adverse birth outcomes, childhood respiratory diseases and atherosclerosis, the World Health Organization warned today.
The report on particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers, or PM2.5, also suggests a link with neurodevelopment, cognitive function and diabetes, and strengthens the causal link between PM2.5 and cardiovascular and respiratory deaths.
Particulate matter consists of a mixture of solid and liquid particles suspended in the air a mix of sulphates, nitrates, ammonium, and other substances. The main sources of man-made PM include heating in households, industrial activities and road traffic.
More than 80 percent of Europeans are exposed to particulate matter levels above the 2005 WHO Air Quality Guidelines, depriving each person of 8.6 months of life, says the health agency."