This page provides information on sources of dust and its environmental and health effects.
This page has not yet been updated to reflect changes as a result of Our air 2018 report.
Sources of dust
Airborne dust is produced from a wide variety of human activities.
- wind-blown dust from exposed surfaces such as bare land and construction sites
- road works
- dust caused by vehicle movements along unsealed roads
- housing developments
- mines and quarries
- agriculture and forestry activities.
Large quantities of dust can also be generated from natural sources such as dry riverbeds, pollen from plants and volcanic eruptions.
Environmental and health effects of dust
Typically, the particles from dusty activities are larger than 10 micrometres in diameter. Dust can irritate your eyes and make them itchy and watery, and can be a nuisance (eg, when it settles on windowsills and washing making things dirty).
Dust can also affect the health of plants. When dust settles on leaves it affects photosynthesis and the amount that plants grow.