DALLAS — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded funds to help the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) monitor fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), according to a press release.

The agency will use the $628,523 to conduct ambient air monitoring of PM 2.5 pollution, stated the release.

The particles measure 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter and are found in smoke and haze, noted the release. When inhaled, they can have serious effects on the heart and lungs.

The pollutants can be caused by forest fires and the interaction of gases emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles, reported the release. Health problems may include premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat and aggravated asthma.

Click here to read the entire release.