Air Pollution - Particulate Matter

Average daily concentration (μg/m³) of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) per cubic meter of air throughout a month

Dashboard-City Average

Why do we measure air pollution - particulate matter?

Particulate matter pollution is a common proxy indicator for air pollution.1 Fine (smaller) particulate matter pollution from industrial facilities, vehicles, smoke, and other emission sources can be inhaled deep into the lungs and spread throughout the body, increasing a person’s risk for health conditions like lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, asthma, allergies, and respiratory infections.1-5 Older adults, infants, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing health conditions are at higher risk of experiencing health problems from air pollution.3 On average, communities with lower income tend to be exposed to higher levels of air pollutants because they are often located closer to facilities that contribute to air pollution.6,7 Measuring air quality helps us address pollution and track reductions.

How do we measure air pollution - particulate matter?

This metric includes the average daily concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air over the course of a year.

Strengths and Limitations

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

• Monitoring air quality helps target high pollution areas and track progress in reducing pollution, which can lower the risk of mortality and morbidity.5

• This metric only measures fine particulate matter and does not assess specific toxic pollutants in PM2.5.8

• The measure is estimated using data from a network of sensors around the country. It is less accurate in areas with fewer sensors.

• Data for Alaska and Hawaii are not currently available.



Daily PM2.5 levels are estimated and averaged over the course of a year to control for seasonal variation in air pollution. For more information on the calculation, please refer to the City Health Dashboard Technical Documentation.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from Community Multiscale Air Quality model data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Multi-year data are available for this metric. For more information, please refer to Using Multi-Year Data: Tips and Cautions

Years of Collection

Calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from December 2023, 1 month average estimate


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outdoor Air. Updated September 8, 2017. Accessed February 28, 2018.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Particle Pollution. Updated July 22, 2016. Accessed February 28, 2018.

  3. Mannucci PM, Harari S, Martinelli I, Franchini M. Effects on health of air pollution: a narrative review. Internal and emergency medicine. 2015;10(6):657-662.

  4. Pope CA, Dockery DW. Epidemiology of particle effects. In: Air pollution and health. Elsevier; 1999:673-705.

  5. Laden F, Schwartz J, Speizer FE, Dockery DW. Reduction in fine particulate air pollution and mortality: Extended follow-up of the Harvard Six Cities study. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine. 2006;173(6):667-672.

  6. Ard K. Trends in exposure to industrial air toxins for different racial and socioeconomic groups: A spatial and temporal examination of environmental inequality in the U.S. from 1995 to 2004. Social science research. 2015;53:375-390.

  7. Hajat A, Hsia C, O'Neill MS. Socioeconomic Disparities and Air Pollution Exposure: a Global Review. Current environmental health reports. 2015;2(4):440-450.

  8. Perlmutt L, Stieb D, Cromar K. Accuracy of quantification of risk using a single-pollutant Air Quality Index. Journal of exposure science & environmental epidemiology. 2017;27(1):24-32.

Last updated: July 26, 2023