Visible Emissions, Public Nuisance & Fugitive Dust

Compliance with source-specific rule requirements is only part of the clean air picture.

Most South Coast AQMD rules and permit conditions are designed to limit or control emissions from specific types of equipment and/or processes. But compliance with these source-specific permit conditions and rule requirements is only part of the clean air picture.

Sources which create visible emissions, a public nuisance or fugitive dust may be cited for failure to comply with South Coast AQMD Rule 401 (Visible Emissions -PDF, 11kb) or Rule 402 (Public Nuisance - PDF, 7kb) or Rule 403 (Fugitive Dust- PDF, 70kb) even when they are in full compliance with all other applicable permit conditions and rule requirements.

Visible emissions violations can occur when a source produces uncontrolled smoke, dust, or other particulate matter that reduces visibility and impedes air quality. South Coast AQMD inspectors trained to evaluate visible emissions determine whether the relative opacity (density) of airborne particulate matter is great enough to warrant enforcement action.

Public nuisance violations can occur when a considerable number of individuals complain to South Coast AQMD of odors, paint overspray, or other bothersome conditions that appear to be related to the operation of a business in the neighboring vicinity. An South Coast AQMD Inspector may be dispatched to investigate such complaints in order to determine whether an alleged source is jeopardizing the public health, safety, or welfare, or creating local property damage.

Fugitive dust violations occur when significant (>20% opacity) dust emission are generated from activities such excavation, grading, weed abatement, stockpiling and similar activities or from dirt surfaces that have been disturbed as a result of one of these activities.  In addition, a violation can also occur when the dust is visible past the property line of the emission source or when dirt/mud is tracked out onto the public roads form more than 25 feet.

Owners and operators of businesses with a high potential for generating odors, overspray, smoke, or other "fugitive emissions" that can threaten public health and welfare should take special precautions to avoid creating visible emissions, a public nuisance or fugitive dust.

Using a paint spray booth or other equipment designed to capture volatile emissions, operating during hours when fewer people are likely to be affected by odors and fumes, and ensuring that pollution control equipment is well-maintained and functioning properly are among the many ways in which instances of non-compliance can be avoided.


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South Coast Air Quality Management District

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