PM10 (the mass of particles present in the air having a 50% cutoff for particles with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 μm) is the standard measure of particulate air pollution used worldwide. Epidemiological studies suggest that asthma symptoms can be worsened by increases in the levels of PM10. Epidemiological evidence at present indicates that PM10 increases do not raise the chances of initial sensitisation and induction of disease, although further research is warranted. PM10 is a complex mixture of particle types and has many components and there is no general agreement regarding which component(s) could lead to exacerbations of asthma. However pro-inflammatory effects of transition metals, hydrocarbons, ultrafine particles and endotoxin, all present to varying degrees in PM10, could be important. An understanding of the role of the different components of PM10 in exacerbating asthma is essential before proper risk assessment can be undertaken leading to advice on risk management for the many asthmatics who are exposed to air pollution particles.