Wind-Blown Dust

Assessing and controlling dust emissions at industrial facilities

Dust is more than an annoyance; depending on its size and composition, dust can be a significant health and environmental hazard.

Airborne dust around trucks

Specifically, airborne dust particles (in particular those finer than 10 microns in diameter, called PM10) can penetrate deep into the lungs and impair respiratory processes. Dust that contains heavy metals or other toxic compounds can also cause a wide range of acute and chronic health effects. For these reasons, dust levels are regulated in most jurisdictions around the world.

Dust is emitted as a result of both natural processes (wind erosion, wildfires) and human activities. Common sources of dust emissions at industrial facilities and mine sites include traffic on unpaved roads; drilling and blasting; and handling of raw materials or finished products (e.g., crushing, screening, stockpiling, loading/unloading).

Most dust issues can be managed effectively by adhering to site-specific dust control strategies and management plans.

Our service

We quantify dust emissions from your operations and help you develop site-specific, pragmatic solutions to reduce dust emissions.
We have a unique set of skills crossing multiple disciplines and fields of expertise. Our core knowledge in the science of wind erosion is supported by expertise in meteorology, fluid dynamics, dispersion and deposition of airborne particles, development of innovative mitigation strategies, computer simulations, and development of real-time decision support systems, among others.

This breadth of expertise, combined with our culture of innovation, means we are able to spot unexpected solutions or approaches that others might miss, particularly in unusual or complex situations.

Although the science behind our analyses may be complex, we are committed to producing practical and cost-effective solutions that are easy to understand, implement, and maintain.

We typically start by visiting your site to determine baseline conditions and gain an in-depth understanding of day-to-day operations at your facility. Next, we develop a list of priorities and recommendations for mitigation, or next steps, or both.  Depending on the characteristics of your site we may draw on the following resources:

  • A full complement of active and passive air-sampling equipment and techniques—used to establish baseline conditions
  • A portable wind tunnel—used on site to quantify dust emissions from such surfaces as material stockpiles or tailings.
  • Boundary-layer wind tunnels—used to model complex wind-flow patterns over large facilities and to test mitigation strategies (e.g., enhanced pile management, berms, wind fences) at scale
  • Meteorological data and modeling—used to anticipate risk of weather-related dust issues
  • Real-time, source-specific measurement of ambient dust and weather—available to clients through a web-based interface