The Physiological Effects of Air Pollution: Particulate Matter, Physiology and Disease

Front Public Health. 2022 Jul 14:10:882569. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.882569. eCollection 2022.


Nine out of 10 people breathe air that does not meet World Health Organization pollution limits. Air pollutants include gasses and particulate matter and collectively are responsible for ~8 million annual deaths. Particulate matter is the most dangerous form of air pollution, causing inflammatory and oxidative tissue damage. A deeper understanding of the physiological effects of particulate matter is needed for effective disease prevention and treatment. This review will summarize the impact of particulate matter on physiological systems, and where possible will refer to apposite epidemiological and toxicological studies. By discussing a broad cross-section of available data, we hope this review appeals to a wide readership and provides some insight on the impacts of particulate matter on human health.

Keywords: PM2.5; air pollution; disease; particulate matter; physiology.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants* / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects
  • Particulate Matter / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter