What are smoke particles?

What are smoke particles?

Wood smoke is a complex mixture of chemicals in gaseous, liquid and solid forms. It contains different-sized smoke particles that cause different health effects.

The Environment Protection Authority monitors the concentration of large and small particles in smoke at various locations. Data are uploaded to the BLANkET table every 10 minutes.

Smaller particles

The smaller particles in wood smoke, or PM2.5, are more hazardous than larger particles.

Smaller particles may be breathed into the lungs and very fine particles may enter the bloodstream. These particles can affect both the lungs and the heart.

When exposed, people with asthma, or a lung or heart condition, may experience wheezing, chest tightness, breathing problems or an increased severity of asthma or bronchitis.

Wood smoke results in higher levels of PM2.5 making it the better measure for the presence of smoke.

What precautions can I take?

Larger particles

The larger particles in wood smoke are called PM10. These contribute to the smoke haze you may see. Dust and sea salt can also contribute to PM10.

Larger particles are too large to be breathed deeply into the lungs, but they can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. However, most healthy people recover as soon as the smoke dissipates.

What other harmful substances are there in smoke?