EPA Looks To Approve Dust-Reduction Plan

By  Stina Sieg
January 16, 2014

It has taken more than 40 years, but Maricopa County is in compliance with the environmental standards for airborne dust. The county met the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standards by the end of 2012, and now the EPA is proposing to approve the plan that helped the county get to this point.

The EPA set its current standards for dust particles in 1970, and the county failed them consistently until implementing this plan in 2007. EPA spokeswoman Colleen McKaughan said the plan helped the county reduce its dust emissions by at least 5 percent each year. She gives lots of credit to what the county calls its rapid response system that notifies large dust producers in advance of days with poor air quality.

“They know when the riskier days are happening, and they can take steps to prevent dust before it actually happens,” McKaughan explained. “And I think that proactive approach seems to be working quite well.”

McKaughan added that the EPA chose not to consider the county’s days with large dust storms when determining if it was in compliance, and even though it is in compliance, the county’s efforts will continue. Jo Crumbaker is with the Maricopa County Air Quality Department.

“Well, our goal is to go to the next step and to do a plan to demonstrate that we can continue to attain the standard,” Crumbaker said. The EPA will decide whether or not to formally approve the dust-reduction plan by June.