The great PM challenge

What is PM?
PM stands for particulate matter and is a kind of pollutant in the air
Is it a Solid, Liquid or a Gas?
PMs are minute particles of solid and liquid particles suspended in the air.
How small are they?
PM varies in size. Big ones are called as PM10. They are between 2.5 to 10 micrometres. 25-100 times thinner than human hair! Small ones are less than 2.5 micrometres and are known as PM2.5
Where do they come from?
PM 10 – The individual particles may originate from Sand storms, smoke, dirt and dust from factories, farming processes, roads, moulds, spores and pollen They get blown by the wind and released into the air due to crushing and grinding of rocks and soil
PM 2.5 – These are toxic organic compounds and heavy metals released from automobiles, burning plants, forest fires , from factories purifying and processing metals .
How does PM impact humans?
when humans breathe the PM travels through the respiratory systems and get deeper into lungs or sticks in the airways?
What is our body's response to high Particulate invasion?
Mucous production, lung diseases, emphysema and lung cancer.
Health effects:
persistent exposure would lead to
Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath
Aggravated Asthma
Lung damage
Premature death in people with existing heart or lung diseases

Abu Dhabi has to contend with naturally high levels of particulate matter due to its hot desert conditions. Particulate matter arising out of strong winds is generally silica based particles; these don't impact the human health as much as the carbon based particulate matter which emanates from human induced sources. Bedouins in the past were exposed to strong winds as they live largely outdoors. During current times however , precautions must be taken by the young and the old people and especially amoung people with existing respiratory disorders to stay indoors during times of high PM concentrations. To know more about Abu Dhabi's air quality and the Status of PM in your locality visit

About the PM challenge game

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the global standard of PM10 limit value for 24 hours average is 150 microgram per normal cubic metre of air. However, Abu Dhabi being an arid environment can experience higher PM averages due to recurring dust and sand storms.

The status of PM, or for that matter any air pollutant, at a given location is calculated by the following formula.

Pollutant concentration at a given location at an observed time
__________________________________________________________ X 100
Pollutant limit value

Here is how you play the game

• As soon as you click on the start button, 14 air quality monitoring station locations will appear on the map.
• PM 10 values will then appear at each of these locations.
• Click on the Calculator icon provided below to open the calculator tool for measuring the PM 10 concentration at a given location.
• As soon as an air quality value appears on the map drag and drop it onto the calculator tool, which will then calculate the concentration of the Particulate Matter (PM) at that given location, using the limiting value and the formula given above automatically.
• Click on the Colour Banner icon to open the legend for air quality. A general air quality index has been provided to you to connect the level of health concern to individuals with a certain pollutant concentration at a given location and at a particular time.
• Your challenge is to assign the right colour to each of these locations depending on the PM 10 concentrations as worked out by the calculator within a specified time. You do this by dragging the correct colour to the location of the PM 10 value on the map.
• This game will help you understand the PM 10 values and the risks they pose for human health. In addition it will also help you understand the AQI colour coding procedures and help you to take precautions on a daily basis to safe guard your health. All you need to do is see the air quality website every day before you set off outdoors!

Here is some help for understanding Abu Dhabi's Pollutants, their Sources and their Health Effects.