The Impacts of Particulate Matter on Crop Yield: Mechanisms, Quantification and Options for Mitigation


World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Mills, G., Smith, W.N., Dentener, F., Pattey, E., Tarasova, O., Hayes, F., Ehlert, K., Grey, S., Baldeon, S., Stefanski, R. . 2023. The Impacts of Particulate Matter on Crop Yield: Mechanisms, Quantification and Options for Mitigation. WMO-No. 1340.

Plain language summary

Crop yields are being affected by particulate matter (PM) pollution in many areas of the world. Effects can be direct when PM lands on leaves and indirect through modification of climate. Options for modelling impacts and mitigation are described.


Concentrations of particulate matter (PM) regularly exceed levels recommended in the 2021 revision of the World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines (AQGs) in many urban and rural areas of the world, and over 8 million people die prematurely every year from exposure to PM. In addition to affecting people living in rural areas, PM also has an impact on the growth, productivity, yield quantity and quality of crops growing in the same polluted air. Despite long-held knowledge of the potential impacts of natural and anthropogenic PM emissions on crops, summary information is not readily available for crop scientists, modellers, and air quality and climate change strategists. To address this deficit, the Expert Team on Agrometeorological Sciences, which is part of the Standing Committee on Services for Agriculture established by the WMO Commission for Weather, Climate, Hydrological, Marine and Related Environmental Services and Applications (SERCOM), commissioned the drafting of this publication to provide an evidence-based assessment of current knowledge in one, easily accessible document. It is one of two documents that describe the impacts of the two forms of air pollution that are of greatest concern for yield at the global scale; the other document focuses on the impacts of tropospheric ozone pollution on yield.

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