First of its Kind Dust Study Begins in Eastern Coachella Valley

Emissions from the Salton Sea and fugitive road dust are among the most important air quality concerns for the AB 617 Eastern Coachella Valley (ECV) community. Residents in ECV often experience strong wind events, which can cause inhalable dust particles to reach unhealthy levels. To better understand the impact of dust in the ECV community, South Coast AQMD has begun a study to better determine the types of dust with different sources and their potential impacts (e.g., Salton Sea playa versus wind-blown desert or road dust). 

The comprehensive dust study will include input from ECV’s AB 617 Community Steering Committee as well as collaboration with researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). This study is the first of its kind in ECV to explore the chemical composition of dust particles in real-time using state-of the-art instruments that will allow the agency to discover how dust emission sources vary throughout the day. 

This one-year study began in January 2022 and is taking place in the residential area of Mecca. Building on previous work by UCR researchers, and existing knowledge of dust markers such as metals and ionic species, South Coast AQMD scientists will examine the size and shape of dust particles as well as their carbon-containing components. Investigating both the physical and chemical properties of dust to fully characterize its composition will help verify source analysis. 

The information gathered in this study will help inform actions to reduce emissions of and exposure to dust in the area and provide valuable data for future efforts by stakeholders such as community groups, researchers, and governmental agencies.

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