Fugitive Dust

Michigan defines fugitive dust under R 336.1106(k) of the Michigan Air Pollution Control Rules as “particulate matter which can originate from indoor or outdoor industrial or commercial processes, activities, or operations and is emitted into the outer air through building openings and general exhaust ventilation.”

Dust is also characterized as “fugitive” when it originates from unintended activities such as soil disturbances by wind or from human activities such as walking or driving through an unpaved parking lot. Emissions that are discharged from building stacks are NOT defined as fugitive dust, nor is fugitive dust considered to be a by-product of open burning activities.

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How is Fugitive Dust Regulated?

Section 324.5524, Part 55, of the Natural Resources Protection Act (NREPA) includes requirements for potential fugitive dust generating activities in designated non-attainment areas. Specifically, it requires that potential fugitive dust generating activities in non-attainment areas (1) adopt and implement fugitive dust programs and (2) meet certain opacity limits. The intent of this regulation is to ensure that areas that do not meet PM2.5 air quality standards take steps toward meeting those standards.

Fugitive Dust suppression methods are determined by the source of the dust. Below are some examples of how dust is created and what can be done to suppress/control it.

    • Vegetation – Vegetation can be used to trap blowing dust. SDEV can assist with plans and funding for vegetation projects in our service area.
    • Unpaved Roadways and Unpaved Lots – Pave or cover with gravel; Spray with water, chemical or synthetic stabilizers; Control traffic; Install geotextile fabrics; Provide crushed stone or gravel at entrance/exit; Encourage strict adherence to posted truck-routes; Re-route traffic to paved roads when possible; Install paved or gravel entry/exit aprons and steel grates; Wash trucks and wheels at entrance/exit to site
    • Paved Roadways – Sweep or vacuum streets; Install gravel entry/exit aprons; Spray with water or other suitable material; Limit traffic – create and enforce designated truck routes and limit allowable speeds;
    • Storage Piles (Inactive) – Cover (tarp, hay, or straw), install barriers (wind fencing) or enclose piles; Cover the entire surface area of the load by properly securing tarps or covers; Spray with water, chemical or synthetic solution
    • Storage Piles (Active) – Minimize height or distance from which material is dropped into pile; Spray with water, chemical or synthetic solution.

Health Impacts

Like any air pollution problem, fugitive dust impacts the health of the people who live and work in this area. The smallest particles (2.5 micros or less in diameter) can be easily inhaled and travel to the deepest parts of the lungs, causing nose and throat irritation, respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis, lung damage, and asthma, and even premature death in sensitive individuals.

Safety Impacts

Generation of fugitive dust can also reduce visibility (i.e. haze) enough to cause moving vehicle or work site equipment accidents that can result in serious injury or death.

Economic Impacts

Excessive dust can cause damage to plant vegetation and reduce crop and livestock yields through contamination by its chemical composition. Wild generation of dust particles can cause erosion of valuable topsoil and contribute to the soiling and discoloration of personal property, requiring monetary costs for repeated cleanup activities. Constant soiling can lead to adverse effects on property and land values in areas where fugitive dust generation is a known problem.


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