Dust Abatement

Air Quality & Fugitive Dusts

dust sources

Airborne particulates are divided into two groups based on their size and health impacts. PM10 particles, with a diameter less than 10 microns, can be inhaled into the upper respiratory tract. PM2.5 has a diameter of less than 2.5 microns and are inhaled deep into the lungs. The smallest particles in the PM2.5 fraction are called “ultrafines” and these tiny particles (less than 0.1 micron) are readily absorbed into cells and reach the bloodstream.

 

Clean Air Hamilton has identified dusts and particulate matter, including road dusts, as a significant source of airborne pollution in Hamilton. Residents can learn about current levels of particulate matter in the City from the Hamilton Air Monitoring Network (HAMN) website, which includes real-time data from a number of air quality monitors throughout the City.

Studies conducted in cities around the world have demonstrated clearly and consistently that exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 can increase the risk of acute health impacts, such as premature deaths and hospital admissions, and chronic health impacts, such as respiratory problems, heart disease and lung cancer.

What are Dusts and Particulate Matter?

Airborne dusts can consist of particulate matter of a variety of sizes and are created by a number of different source types.

Fugitive dusts arise from non-point sources, and include road dusts, agricultural dusts, dusts that arise from materials handling, construction operations, outdoor storage piles, etc. These are dusts that are not airborne to begin with, but are sent into the air primarily by wind or vehicle traffic. The compositions of fugitive dusts and road dusts vary depending upon the materials used or stored, adjacent land uses, local emission sources and traffic loads. For instance, dusts created by building demolition will be composed of whatever the building was constructed of, whereas agricultural dusts will include soil, as well as any fertilizers or pesticides that may have been applied.

 

Road dusts consist of particulate matter from vehicle exhausts, tire wear, pavement wear, brake wear, and can result from track-out (trucks dragging mud or dust off site and then depositing it to the air) from construction sites and industrial sites (particularly from unpaved roads), blow-off from construction sites, and the deposition of materials from the air, including industrial particulates and vehicle emissions. Road dusts can contain elevated levels of toxic substances such as chromium, manganese and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

 

 

fugitive dusts

 

Dust Management and Control

Dust and particulate matter have received less attention than other forms of air pollution historically, perhaps in part because dust is so common that it doesn’t seem like it can be harmful. However, as epidemiological information on the health impacts of particulate matter becomes more defined and better known, this is starting to change, and regulations and requirements for the control of dust are becoming more common.

 

There are many simple and cost-effective measures for dust control, including tarps, watering surfaces, wind fencing, vehicle cleaning stations, properly equipped street sweepers, and worker safety equipment such as dust masks where appropriate.

 

Dust and particulate matter on work sites is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour. Provincially regulated employers in Ontario are required to ensure that exposure to dust and particulate levels are within the occupational exposure limits (OEL). Ministry of Labour inspectors and hygienists enforce OEL compliance by conducting inspections of workplaces. Click here for information on MOL regulations pertaining the control of dust and particulate matter.

 

Dust and particulate matter that migrates off of work sites is the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. Section 49 of Ontario Regulation 419/05 states that no contaminant shall be carried beyond the limits of the property on which your construction or demolition is taking place unless every step necessary to control the emission of the contaminant has been implemented. The easiest way to control these emissions is to prepare a contaminant control plan ahead of any construction or demolition activities. Click here for Regulation 419/05, and here for more information on contaminant control plans.

 

The public health impacts of dust and particulate matter are the responsibility of the City of Hamilton’s Public Health Services. Research on the health effects of dust and particulate matter is made available on this website. Template Dust Management Plans are being developed to communicate best management practices for dust control at construction and demolition sites.

Dust Control for Construction Sites Workshop (2016)

 The City of Hamilton’s Public Health Services, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, and the Ministry of Labour jointly presented a workshop to Hamilton’s construction industry about best practices for dust management and regulatory requirements from all three agencies.

 

Particulate Matter-Compliant Street Sweepers Purchase (2006)

Regular street sweeping of roadways and streets can reduce the amounts of dusts on the road, thereby reducing the impacts of dusts along and near roadways. The effectiveness of the sweeping equipment, the technology used in the sweeper, and the frequency of sweeping have a direct influence on the amounts and size ranges of soils and dusts collected. The more efficient the collection of particulate material, particularly the finer fractions, the less will be available for dispersion into the Air due to traffic.

 

Particulate Matter-Compliant Street Sweepers Purchase (2006)

Regular street sweeping of roadways and streets can reduce the amounts of dusts on the road, thereby reducing the impacts of dusts along and near roadways. The effectiveness of the sweeping equipment, the technology used in the sweeper, and the frequency of sweeping have a direct influence on the amounts and size ranges of soils and dusts collected. The more efficient the collection of particulate material, particularly the finer fractions, the less will be available for dispersion into the Air due to traffic.

In 2005, the City of Toronto, in partnership with the City of Hamilton, tested the performance of a number of street sweeping vehicles and their abilities to remove particulate matter from roads efficiently. The performance tests were validated by ETV Canada. As a result of these tests, the City of Hamilton purchased 15 new regenerative-Air street sweepers. These sweepers had obtained the highest performance test scores in removing particulate matter and in other requirements.