Fugitive Dust Emissions

Status: Under Development
Industry Partners:
Currently Recruiting Industry Partners
Photo showing sources of dust and airborne measurement equipment.

Dust emissions are a constant problem in arid and semi-arid regions, especially for mines and cement, rock and rock products, and aggregate companies. For such industries in dust-rich regions, a dust event characterized by significant particulate matter emissions and reduced visibility can lead to a significant fine from regulatory agencies. Additionally, public relations are a critical aspect in the cooperation of these companies and local communities, since mines and cement companies, for example, are in residential areas.

The University of Arizona aims to form a research cooperative with industry partners from the mining and rock products industries to understand dust emissions on a micro- and macro-scale. The specific objective of this research initiative is to determine the net dust flux from industry operations to quantify the exposure of nearby communities to particulate matter, with emphasis placed on the speciation of such emissions (e.g., nitrates, sulfates, toxic metal(loid)s). Additionally, data from the EPA Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network and other data sources will be utilized to quantify regional particulate concentrations around Arizona with the goal of putting point source emissions at mining industry sites into regional context.

We welcome new industry partners to join this research cooperative. Please contact us for additional information. The contract Scope of Work (SOW) can be found below.

Scope of Work

Dust emissions are a constant problem in arid and semi-arid regions, especially for mines and cement, rock and rock products, and aggregate companies. For such industries in dust-rich regions, a dust event characterized by significant particulate matter emissions and reduced visibility can lead to a significant fine from regulatory agencies. Additionally, public relations are a critical aspect in the cooperation of these companies and local communities, since mines and cement companies, for example, are in residential areas. The University of Arizona aims to form a research cooperative with industry partners from the mining and rock products industries to understand dust emissions on a micro- and macro-scale. The specific objective of this research initiative is to determine the net dust flux of dust flux from industry operations to quantify the exposure of nearby communities to particulate matter, with emphasis placed on the speciation of such emissions (e.g., nitrates, sulfates, toxic metal(loid)s). Additionally, data from the EPA Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network will be utilized to quantify regional particulate concentrations around Arizona with the goal of putting point source emissions at mining industry sites into regional context.

To compare regional haze and dust emissions from participating companies, an initial dataset must be collected. As part of this research initiative, temporary particulate samplers will be set up at relevant locations in consultation with the industry partner and remain on the chosen property for approximately one year. Modified Wilson & Cooke (MWAC) samplers will be used based on proven success in previously published work examining particulate emissions in Arizona (Gil-Loaiza et al., 2018; doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b05730). Additionally, a portable weather station will be installed for the duration of the experiment to measure wind speed and wind direction. There will be three monitoring periods: January – May, May – September, and September - January. For every collection period, the mass of collected particulates will be quantified and dust flux will be calculated. Additionally, chemical analysis will be done using ion chromatography (IC) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).

Deliverables for participating companies:

  • Initial planning meeting: A site visit will be conducted to (i) identify a suitable area within the tailings embankment to set up weather monitoring equipment, and to (ii) collect initial soil samples to chemically characterize the topsoil.
  • Secondary planning meeting: After initial data gathered on wind speed and wind direction, the optimal spots (flux in and out) for the particulate samplers will be determined, and samplers will be installed.
  • Annual report: Results combining the measurement data at the mining site with the regional IMPROVE data will be summarized in a report available to all participants in addition to being submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.