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Contact EPA Pacific Southwest

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

What's All The Fuss About DUST?

NOTE: This content is no longer being updated. The most up to date information can be found in Federal Register Notices and Approved Air Quality Implementation Plans in Region 9.

When dust is in the air, we breathe it into our lungs. Small dust particles hurt our lungs because they damage tissue and impair the lungs' ability to function. The elderly, children and people with chronic lung disease, like asthma, are especially sensitive to high levels of dust.

People who live in Maricopa County are exposed to unhealthy levels of "particulate matter," or dust. Whenever land is disturbed, the wind blows dust into the air and tiny particles get trapped in our lungs. Dust sources include:

  • Construction sites
  • Agricultural fields
  • Unpaved roads
  • Unpaved parking lots
  • Disturbed vacant lots

How can we reduce levels of dust in the air and protect the health of people living in Maricopa County?

Current local regulations control dust from construction sites. There is now a State process to develop ways to reduce agricultural dust. EPA is helping Maricopa County and the State control dust from these sources.

EPA has developed a new regulation to control dust from unpaved roads, unpaved parking lots and vacant lots.

The new regulation supplements current local regulations and requires the owners and operators of certain unpaved parking lots, unpaved roads and disturbed vacant lots to control dust. Ways to control dust from these sources include:

  • Applying gravel, chemical or organic soil stabilizers, or paving over unpaved parking lots and unpaved roads frequently traveled.
  • Applying water or other dust suppressants when vacant lots are weeded.
  • Applying dust suppressants or revegetating vacant lots disturbed by vehicles or other activities.
  • Fencing off or placing barriers on vacant lots to prevent vehicles from trespassing.

How can you comply with the new dust regulation?

Although the new regulation is in effect today, EPA is allowing time for owners or operators of dust sources to satisfy the rule's requirements. During this period, EPA will let the people in Maricopa County know about the new regulation and provide assistance to those who may need it. After May 1, 1999, EPA will conduct inspections to make sure that dust sources are properly controlled.

For more information

Please contact colleen McKaughan, Associate Director, air Division, U.S. EPA Region 9 at (520) 498-0118. Send questions and comments to r9.phoenixdust@epa.gov.

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