Pollutant Information: PM2.5 (Particulate Matter < 2.5µm) 

About PM2.5 (Particulate Matter < 2.5µm)

Category: Particulate Matter

Particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres (µm) is referred to as PM2.5.

PM can be emitted directly from a source (primary PM) or formed through the interaction of other pollutants (secondary PM). The National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory estimates emissions of primary PM only.

In general, emissions of finer particulates follow similar trends as for PM10. UK emissions of PM2.5 have declined by 67% since 1990 due mainly to a reduction in coal use, and the banning of crop residue burning in 1993. Emissions from coal-fired power stations have fallen by 99.9% since 1990. Residential sector emissions fell between 1990 (46kt) to 2002 (19kt), reflecting declining coal use. Industrial use of biomass fuels is increasing and has, as a result, become a more significant contributor to UK emissions – 18% of UK emissions of PM2.5 in 2020.

The UK has met its National Emissions Ceilings Regulations and Gothenburg Protocol target for PM2.5 in 2020. Latest projections suggest that emissions will need to be further reduced to meet the 2030 Emission Reduction Commitments.

» View and Download PM2.5 (Particulate Matter < 2.5µm) emission summary data

Time series graph

Notable events

Start year End year Sector Information Impact
2020 2020 Road transport, aviation and railways Because of measures in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, PM2.5 emissions from road transport, aviation and railways in 2020 were 23%, 61% and 28% lower than they had been in 2019 respectively. Decrease in emissions