Particulate Matter

Very small pieces of solid or liquid matter such as particles of soot, dust, fumes, mists or aerosols. The physical characteristics of particles, and how they combine with other particles, are part of the feedback mechanisms of the atmosphere.

Parts Per Million (PPM)

The number of "parts" by weight of a substance per million parts of water. This unit is commonly used to represent pollutant concentrations. Large concentrations are expressed in percentages.


The property of permitting liquids or gases to pass through. A highly permeable soil, such as sand, allows a liquid to pass through quickly. Clay has a low permeability.


The quality of remaining for a long period of time. Persistent chemicals (such as DDT and PCBs) are not easily broken down.


A substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Pesticides can accumulate in the food chain and/or contaminate the environment if they are misused.


Chemical substances produced from petroleum in refinery operations. Many are hazardous.


An expression of both acidity and alkalinity on a scale of zero to 14, with seven representing neutrality; numbers less than seven indicate increasing acidity and numbers greater than seven indicate increasing alkalinity. Acid rain can increase the pH level of the water in a lake, thereby killing all life.


The manufacture by plants of carbohydrates and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water in the presence of chlorophyll, using sunlight as an energy source. Plants thereby absorb carbon from the atmosphere with the process, and store it in their forms.


Usually microscopic aquatic plants, sometimes consisting of only one cell.


Those organisms that are unable to maintain their position or distribution independent of the movement of water or air masses.


Durable and flexible synthetic based products, some of which are difficult to recycle and pose problems with toxic properties, especially PVC plastic.


A chemical that adversely affects health by causing injury, illness, or death.


The contamination of a natural ecosystem, especially with reference to the activity of humans.


(1) The whole number of inhabitants in a country, region or area; (2) A set of individuals having a quality or characteristic in common.


Any and all forms of water, whether liquid or solid, that fall from the atmosphere and reach the Earth's surface. A day with measurable precipitation is a day when the water equivalent of the precipitation is equal to or greater than 0.2 mm.


The detailed plan for conducting a procedure. A protocol for measuring a chemical in soil, water or air describes the way in which samples should be collected and analysed.


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