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August 2005

PM 2.5—A Killer in Our Midst

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159(8):786. doi:10.1001/archpedi.159.8.786

Last December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disclosed a list of counties across the nation that have had persistently unsafe levels of a specific kind of air pollution known as PM 2.5. PM 2.5 refers to air particles, made from a hodgepodge of metals, organic compounds, and other substances produced primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels, that are all less than 2.5 μm (or about one thirtieth the width of a human hair). About 95 million Americans (that’s roughly 1 in 3) breathe air deemed to be consistently higher than the EPA’s PM 2.5 air quality standards.1

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