Consider air pollutants like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide for which we use their chemical formulas, $\ce{CO}$ and $\ce{NO2}$ respectively, as a way to compactly refer to them when writing reports or academic papers. However there are some pollutants for which this notation does not correspond to a chemical formula, e.g. particulate matter which we also represent like this: $\ce{PM10}$, $\ce{PM_{2.5}}$.

Considering this, it feels that calling this notation a "chemical formula" is not appropriate. So what is the right name for this notation?

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    $\begingroup$ I would denote $PM_{10}$ as abbreviation and I am not aware of an overarching name for both notations. In addition to $PM_{10}$ we also have things like VOCs, which I would also consider as abbreviations -- but somehow different abbreviations ... . If you need a word for the heading of a table, I would suggest using compound, species or parameter (whereas, parameter might be something different, if you do air quality modeling). $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @daniel.heydebreck . Yesterday I did little more research and it seems that indeed it is an abbreviation or a symbol. $\endgroup$
    – fire-bee
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 0:09
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    $\begingroup$ If looking more than an individual "abbreviation", but are referring to the whole groups, maybe some wider generic term, like "specie" instead of "chemical" could work. "Species identifier"? "Pollutant types" (or category) or just call them each pollutants? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ PM₁₀ is used to describe whatever atmospheric pollutant as dust, ashes, metallic particles, cement... that is liquid or solid which aerodynamic diameter is smaller than 10 µm. PM2.5 smaller than 2.5 µm. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 4:38


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