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4 Dust Nuisance

Dust nuisance occurs when high concentrations of particles, typically of geological material, become suspended in the air. Dust particles resulting in nuisance effects are typically in the coarse, PM10-2.5, and TSP size fractions, and are formed through mechanical and abrasive processes. However, some particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter may occur as a result of particular activities. Particles may become elevated as a result of natural processes such as winds or anthropogenic activities including mechanical interactions such as transportation or the tilling of land.

Examples of sources of dust nuisance in New Zealand include vehicle movement on unpaved roads, quarrying, aggregate crushing, stockpiling of materials, tilling of land, erosion of soils and riverbeds, construction sites and abrasive blasting. In some areas high levels of pollen have been reported as an air quality concern, although generally complaints relate to the deposition of material.

The Ministry for the Environment has prepared a Good Practice Guide for Assessing and Managing the Environmental effects of Dust Emissions (MfE, 2001). The guide includes an overview of the legal framework for managing dust emissions including regional air plans, district plans, and land use planning. Proposed management measures include conditions such as "no dust beyond the boundary which causes an offensive or objectionable effect". Guidance is also given on measurement methods for dusts and dust control technologies.

The nuisance effects associated with elevated dusts include soiling of property, visual impacts, and deposition in the eyes and nose. While adverse health impacts are possible for particles in the PM10 size fraction, larger dust particles will be removed prior to deposition in the lungs. Figures 4.1 and 4.2 show the impact of dusts from abrasive blasting on a waterway.

Figure 4.1: Illustration of dust impacts of sandblasting a bridge in the Hawkes Bay region

Photo of dust impacts of sandblasting a bridge in the Hawkes Bay region.

Photo supplied by Bryce Lawrence (HBRC).

Figure 4.2: Deposition of particles from sandblasting activities in the Hawkes Bay region

Photo of deposition of particles from sandblasing activities in the Hawkes Bay region.

Photo supplied by Bryce Lawrence (HBRC).