May 16, 2011 04:52

No Dust, No Fuss

"If you build it, they will come," is the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams. When it comes to construction, if you build anything without effectively controlling dust, the person who comes will be a field engineering inspector, bringing along with him citations and hefty fines, and he won´t want to play ball.

From the moment your building permit is issued, you’ll be hit with many construction site regulations—from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to state and local levels. Perhaps the most stringent of these are the measures that you’ll have to take to control dust.

Under the 1970 Clean Air Act, the EPA established air-quality standards for pollutants that were shown to threaten human health and welfare. These “criteria pollutants” consist of particulate matter that is less than 10 microns (PM10) and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5). In other words, dust. Particles that originate from the soil and become airborne are called fugitive dust.

More than a mere inconvenience, fugitive dust that’s generated by vehicular traffic on unpaved roads can lead to road deterioration, sediment runoff, and severely impair the work environment. Prolonged exposure to dust can cause bronchitis, asthma and even contribute to heart and lungdisease. In addition to health matters, large dust clouds reduce visibility on roads and can create unsafe drivingconditions on and around a construction site. Fugitive dust can also damage surrounding plants, vehicles and buildings.

“Dust can be erosive to mechanical parts of machinery and leave an unsightly coating on businesses and homes nearby the construction site,” says Scott McLellan, president of McLellan Construction Corporation, Ramona, California.

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