J Korean Med Assoc.  2018 Dec;61(12):749-755. 10.5124/jkma.2018.61.12.749.

Health effects of particulate matter

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. ychong1@snu.ac.kr


Particulate matter is an air pollutant emitted from both natural and anthropogenic sources, and its adverse health effects have been well documented in time-series analyses and cohort studies. The effect size of particulate matter exposure"”a roughly 0.5% increase in mortality for each 10 µg/m³ increment of short-term exposure to particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤10 µm and approximately a 10% increase for each 10 µg/m³ increment of long-term exposure to particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5 µm"”is small compared to other risk factors, but the exposure is involuntary and affects the entire population, which makes particulate matter pollution an important public health issue. The World Health Organization and Korean government have both established guidelines for particulate matter concentrations, but the Korean guideline is less stringent than that of the World Health Organization. The annual mean concentration of particulate matter in Korea is decreasing, but the trend seems to be slowing. In addition to policy efforts to reduce particulate matter emission, personal approaches such as the use of face masks and air purifiers have been recommended. Personal approaches may not solve the fundamental problem, but can provide temporary mitigation until efforts to reduce emission make progress.


Particulate matter; Epidemiology; Environmental medicine

MeSH Terms

Air Filters
Cohort Studies
Environmental Medicine
Particulate Matter*
Public Health
Risk Factors
World Health Organization
Particulate Matter


  • Figure 1. Temporal trend of yearly mean particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) concentrations of all monitoring stations in Korea between 1998 and 2016.


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