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Assessment of Particulate Matter 10µm (PM


Academic year: 2023

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There were complaints about the air quality problem in the Tronoh area, where the air was observed in a hazy condition, possibly involving PM10. Initial research shows that the source of PM10 emissions could be caused by traffic, industrial and human activities. The purpose of this study is to investigate the trends of PM10 with the development status and to compare the concentration of PM10 with the meteorological parameters such as temperature and humidity.

The calculation was done to compare the average concentration of PM10 with air pollution index (API). The study has achieved its goal and must be continued to improve the air quality in Tronoh.


Background of Study

In the air we breathe every day, we can find pollutants that are a component of gases (Wallace, 2006). Air quality in Malaysia is monitored against an air pollution index similar to the World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Index (Mustafa, 2011). In Malaysia, the Ministry of Environment has set a reading standard for air index classification to determine the level of air pollution.

According to the Department of Environment Malaysia (DOE), the air quality in Malaysia must be monitored from time to time to determine the changes in the quality status of the ambient air that may affect human health and the surrounding environment. In Malaysia, a guideline called Malaysian Ambient Air Quality Guideline (MAAQG) has been established to classify the air quality status in a specific area.

Figure 1: Atmospheric Layers (https://www.nasa.gov)
Figure 1: Atmospheric Layers (https://www.nasa.gov)

Problem Statement



  • Air Pollution
  • Particulate Matter
  • Particulate Matter 10µm (PM 10 )
  • Meteorological Effect on PM 10
  • Sources of PM 10

Particulate air pollution can be defined as the mixture of solid, liquid or solid and liquid particles present in the air (Hanapi et al., 2012). There are some common sources that lead to the pollution of particles to the environment and ambient air such as the burning of fossil fuels from various activities, for example traffic or transport, electrical or power generation and industry (Boubel et al also mentioned that the other source of common particulate pollution is from human and non-human activities such as biomass burning, heating, cooking, indoor activities and fire. These particles often cause respiratory problems when inhaled such as bronchoconstriction and mucus (Yang et al added that the highly water soluble acid fumes can easily be deposited in the respiratory system with a small penetration to the lung and will eventually cause respiratory problems such as asthma and lung cancer for a long period of time.

Since PM10 can cause harm especially to human health such as bronchi, lungs and other problems related to breathing, Noor et al., (2011) stated that it was given very careful attention. Hanapi et al., (2012) mentioned that being exposed to PM10 for a long time can lead one to several health issues such as respiratory conflicts, lung tissue damage, cancer and cardiovascular diseases and can even cause fatality. The formation of air pollution is likely to be dependent on the intensity of emissions from the source and other meteorological conditions in the ambient air such as wind, temperature, topography and many others (Giri, 2008).

Giri (2008), mentioned that in a certain form of topography, such as bowl-shaped valley topography, it will restrict and inhibit the movement of the pollutant and make the pollutant trapped, in other words, restricting the distribution of the pollutant . The positive correlation can also be seen with other types of gases such as SO2 and NO2. Among the industrial activities that caused the emission of pollutants are wood pulping, paper production, oil and metal refining and smelting of metals especially sulphide containing ores such as lead, silver and zinc (DOE Australia, 2013).

The Australian Department of Energy (2013) also mentioned that pollutants can also be released from burning fossil fuels such as coal-fired power plants. In addition, a pollutant such as PM10 can be released into the atmosphere from transportation sources such as cars, buses and trucks that involve burning fuel, which is emitted as an end product from vehicle exhaust (DOE Australia, 2013). Everyday human activities can also contribute to the release of pollutants into the atmosphere, such as the consumption of foods containing pollutants (preserved dried fruit), food preservatives, wine, bleach, disinfectants and fumigants for pest control (DOE Australia, 2013).

Figure 3: Transportation of pollutant (Vallero, 2014)
Figure 3: Transportation of pollutant (Vallero, 2014)


  • Introduction
  • Data Collection and Sampling
    • Data Collection
    • Equipment
  • PM 10 Analysis
    • Time Series Analysis
    • Traffic Flow Analysis
  • Key Milestone

Three different locations were selected to place the air monitoring instrument with the radius of 2 km from the exact study area. The last point is 1.2 kilometers away from the exact study area which is at the rural area at Papan village. In this study, all the data collection and sampling will be performed using Aeroqual 60 station.

The station will be erected and installed at three locations within the study area to record the concentration of PM10 and meteorological parameters such as temperature and relative humidity. All this data will be recorded through a sampling period of 6 days within 3 weeks and the readings are taken by the station at a constant time interval of 3 minutes interval for 12 hours a day. The air pollution will be sampled for 1 day in the weekday and 1 day in the weekend for each location.

The number of vehicles will be recorded in each sampling activity to correlate the effect of the traffic with the concentration of PM10. The changes in PM10 concentration will be analyzed against the number of vehicles and meteorological parameters to know the current trend of air pollution during the day of sampling. Thereby, the influence of traffic and meteorological parameters on the concentration of PM10 can be analyzed more accurately and precisely.

By using the time series analysis, it is easy to describe and observe the movement history of PM10 with the variable in time. Identification of long-term variation of the mean value and the periodic component will be involved in time series analysis to observe the air pollution environmental levels. Because of that matter, time series analysis will be very useful to understand the cause and effect relationship in this topic.

This is because the foggy condition that can be found in the study area usually occurs in the morning. Therefore, the expected results should allow modeling the time-varying dispersion of PM10 within the timeframe.

Figure 5:  Street view of the flyover at Batu Gajah, Perak
Figure 5: Street view of the flyover at Batu Gajah, Perak


One Day Monitoring (Finding Peak Hour)

  • Trends of PM 10 Concentration and Meteorological Parameters
  • Trends of Traffic
  • Comparison between PM 10 concentration and PCU

The concentration of PM10 versus time for 22 hours is as shown in graph 1 below. To select the peak hour for the fluctuating data, the traffic score is compared to represent the peak time of human activity in Tronoh. The Passenger Car Unit (PCU) is a way of measuring the volume of vehicles passing through a given location.

The purpose of the PCU calculation is to determine the peak load period and also to investigate the relationship between the PCU and the pollutant concentration. The number of vehicles registered in the PCU are the vehicles that passed through the main road. The PCU index in graph 2 above shows the period of the number or volume of vehicles.

The highest vehicle to pass the site was recorded in the morning, with the number of PCUs totaling 1475. During the evening, an increase in PCU can be seen, which means that the number of vehicles was saturated during the time. This shows that in addition to the number of vehicles, other parameters such as the meteorological situation should also be taken into account.

From the observation on the graph provided, the trend of PM10 shows that the concentration of PM10 decreases as the temperature increases. The highest temperature recorded during the monitoring was in the afternoon with a reading of 42.35 °C. The lowest temperature was recorded in the morning with a reading of 26.31 °C and the highest humidity was recorded at the same time with a reading of 86.30%.

Graph 2: PCU Index of 22 Hours
Graph 2: PCU Index of 22 Hours

Results for Location 1 (Roadside)

  • Trends of PM 10 Concentration and Meteorological Parameters
  • Trend of Traffic during Weekdays

The Graph 3 obtained was the result for location 1 where the equipment was placed along the road for 8 hours from 0600 to 1400 hours on a weekday mainly to investigate the relationship between the concentrations of PM10 with the traffic condition. The trend of the PM10 concentration did not exactly follow the PCU trend, as meteorological parameters which are temperature, relative humidity and wind also affect the concentration of PM10. The correlation of PM10 concentration with the temperature can be from 0730 hours to 1100 hours where the concentration of PM10 increases as the temperature increases.

This is due to the chemical reaction that is strongly active during high temperature and can lead to the formation of PM10 in the atmosphere. The Graph 5 obtained was the result for location 1 where the equipment was placed along the road for 12 hours from 0630 to 1830 hours on the weekend to study the relationship between the concentrations of PM10 with the traffic condition during the weekend. This shows that the temperature affects the concentration of PM10 as the concentration will be higher at high temperature as it will encourage more chemical reaction in the atmosphere leading to the formation of particles that are finely divided which will make a significant contribution to the PM10 concentration in the air.

The average concentration at the weekend is higher than on weekdays with the concentration of 42.38 µg/m3 compared to 9.72 µg/m3. It is believed that the work carried out by the factories contributes to the reading of the recorded concentration of PM10. From observation, at this time, the activities of the industry also active which leads to the trend of PM10 concentration.

The concentration was only compared with the meteorological parameters which are temperature and humidity. It is believed that the concentration of PM10 in this location also correlates with the activities of the sand factory. This activity leads to the small particle and smoke released to the air which can contribute to the slope of PM10 concentration from 2.13 µg/m3 to 10.714 µg/m3.

PM10 trends were studied by monitoring at different locations on different days and conditions. Overall, the concentration of PM10 in Tronoh was still below the safe condition according to the API, which sets the safe level at 50 and does not exceed the MAAQG, which is set at 150 µg/m3 for 24 hours.

Table 7: Peak Period based on PCU
Table 7: Peak Period based on PCU


Figure 1: Atmospheric Layers (https://www.nasa.gov)
Table 2:  Air Pollutant Index Implemented in Malaysia (DOE, 2017)
Table 3: The Malaysian Ambient Air Quality Guideline (DOE, 2017)
Table 4: Parameters measured by CAQM stations (DOE, 2017)



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