Better Health

Scientific studies have linked airborne particulate pollution with significant health problems. People exposed to dust can experience respiratory symptoms including irritation, coughing or difficulty breathing. Exposure to particulates can also decrease lung function and aggravate asthma or hay fever. Dust can convey diseases like tetanus that are harbored by soil. Some health experts suggest that chronic bronchitis and irregular heartbeat can also result from exposure to particle pollution, and premature death is possible if individuals already have lung or heart disease. The effects of dust inhalation can have a particularly serious effect on children, the elderly or others who are vulnerable to health issues.

Dust is considered a coarse particulate, 10 microns or smaller in size, and subject to the 2006 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 24-hour primary and secondary standard calling for concentrations not to exceed 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air.2 Concerns about the health effects of dust pollution have resulted in federal and state air-permitting regulations to control the amount of “fugitive dust” emitted by industrial and transportation facilities such as mines, railroads, and agricultural and manufacturing locations, where unpaved surfaces and traffic levels combine to create high concentrations of airborne dust.

2EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards (40 CFR part 50).