Fugitive Dust

NAC 445B.075 defines “Fugitive dust” as "emissions of solid, airborne particulate matter which could not reasonably pass through a stack, chimney, vent or a functionally equivalent opening."

Particulate matter," also known as particle pollution or PM, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. Particulate matter can cause adverse health and environmental effects.

Health Effects

The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. EPA is concerned about particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller because those are the particles that generally pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including:

  • increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing, for example;
  • decreased lung function;
  • aggravated asthma;
  • development of chronic bronchitis;
  • irregular heartbeat;
  • nonfatal heart attacks; and
  • premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

People with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure. However, even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms from exposure to elevated levels of particle pollution. For more information about asthma, visit www.epa.gov/asthma.

Environmental Effects

Visibility reduction. Fine particles (PM2.5) are the major cause of reduced visibility (haze) in parts of the United States, including many of our treasured national parks and wilderness areas. For more information about visibility, visit www.epa.gov/visibility.

Environmental damage. Particles can be carried over long distances by wind and then settle on ground or water. The effects of this settling include: making lakes and streams acidic; changing the nutrient balance in coastal waters and large river basins; depleting the nutrients in soil; damaging sensitive forests and farm crops; and affecting the diversity of ecosystems. More information about the effects of particle pollution and acid rain.

Aesthetic damage Particle pollution can stain and damage stone and other materials, including culturally important objects such as statues and monuments. More information about the effects of particle pollution and acid rain.

Fugitive Dust Handbook Available

Countess Environmental prepared a fugitive dust handbook for the WRAP's Dust Emissions Joint Forum in 2004. All of the material contained in the handbook is available for downloading from this website, either in its entirety or by individual sections. The handbook addresses the estimation of uncontrolled fugitive dust emissions and emission reductions achieved by demonstrated control techniques for eight major fugitive dust source categories: agricultural tilling, construction and demolition, materials handling, paved roads, and unpaved roads as well as windblown dust emissions from agricultural fields, material storage piles, and exposed open areas. The handbook is not intended to suggest any preferred method to be used in preparation of SIPs and/or Conformity analyses, but rather to identify the most commonly adopted methodologies used in the western US. The WRAP Fugitive Dust Handbook is available online and a stand alone application is available on CD ROM.

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