Review Article

Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine

, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 246-253

First online:

Investigating the potential for interaction between the components of PM10

  • Vicki StoneAffiliated withBiomedicine Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Napier University Email author 
  • , Martin R. WilsonAffiliated withBiomedicine Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Napier University
  • , Janet LightbodyAffiliated withBiomedicine Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Napier University
  • , Kenneth DonaldsonAffiliated withBiomedicine Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Napier University

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The adverse health effects of elevated exposures to PM10 (particulate matter collected through a size selective inlet with an efficiency of 50% for particles with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 μm) in relation to morbidity and mortality, especially in susceptible individuals, are now well recognised. PM10 consists of a variable cocktail of components differing in chemical composition and size. Epidemiological and toxicological data suggest that transition metals and ultrafine particles are both able to drive the cellular and molecular changes that underlie PM10-induced inflammation and so worsen disease status. Toxicological evidence also suggest roles for the biological components of PM10 including volatile organic compounds (VOC's), allergens and bacterial-derived endotoxin. Many of these components, in particular transition metals, ultrafine particles, endotoxin and VOC's induce a cellular oxidative stress which initiates an intracellular signaling cascade involving the activation of phosphatase and kinase enzymes as well as transcription factors such as nuclear factor kappa B. Activation of these signaling mechanisms results in an increase in the expression of proinflammatory mediators, and hence enhanced inflammation. Given that many of the components of PM10 stimulate similar or even identical intracellular signaling pathways, it is conceivable that this will result in synergistic or additive interactions so that the biological response induced by PM10 exposure is a response to the composition rather than the mass alone. A small number of studies suggest that synergistic interactions occur between ultrafine particles and transition metals, between particles and allergens, and between particles and VOC's. Elucidation of the consequences of interaction between the components of PM10 in relation to their biological activity implies huge consequences for the methods used to monitor and to legislate pollution exposure in the future, and may drive a move from mass based measurements to composition.

Key words

PM10 ultrafine metal synergism endotoxin