Fugitive Dust

Natural Events Action Plan

Erosion from wind is a significant problem in the Southwest. Doña Ana County has not met the federal ambient air quality standards for PM10. Dona Ana County is currently working under a Natural Events action plan, to control man-made sources of windblown dust. This plan coordinates stakeholders, such as the City of Las Cruces, and develops outreach, documents exceedances, and develops tools to minimize public exposure to PM10.

A Natural Events Action Plan (NEAP) for Doña Ana County was submitted to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for review. The focus of the NEAP is to control man-made sources of windblown dust. This plan includes agreements between primary stakeholders (such the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department and New Mexico State University) and the State of New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), dust ordinances on both the city and county level, documentation of exceedances, and education tools and tools to minimize the public’s exposure to PM10.

Dust Control/Wind Erosion Ordinance

Dust from construction site and graded land areas are large contributors to the particulate matter scale therefore, the City has implemented a new dust control/wind erosion ordinance to address this. The City has created a wind erosion ordinance to

  • Protect and maintain the natural environment and to reduce the health effects caused by the creation of fugitive dust
  • Limit property damage due to blowing sand and particulate matter caused by man-made activities
  • Ensure that the city's most vulnerable citizens are protected from fugitive dust

Measuring Fugitive Dust

Major sources in Las Cruces for fugitive dust are from construction sites, unpaved roads, and fields. The amount of particles in the air, is measured by EPA. This measurement is commonly referred to as PM10.

PM10 is short for Particulate Matter 10, and stands for any material that is less than 10 micrometers. To give an idea of the size the average hair is about 70 microns. That is very small. At that size the particles can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream.

Potential Negative Health Effects of from Excessive Inhalation

  • Aggravated asthma
  • Decreased lung function
  • Increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nonfatal heart attacks
  • Premature death in people with heart or lung disease