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Maricopa County’s Five Percent Plan Continues to Struggle

As air quality standards continue to evolve, Maricopa County continues to revise its dust control policies to meet federal air quality regulatory standards.

Maricopa County has failed to meet federal air quality standards for more than four decades. The county’s Five Percent Plan calls for a five percent reduction in dust emissions each year.

Arizona has plans to improve its dust control policy, the 5 Percent Plan, to increase air quality and meet regulatory air quality standards, the Maricopa Air Quality Department said in a news release.

Maricopa County has failed to meet federal air quality regulation standards implemented by the Clean Air Act since it was amended in 1970, and air quality regulation in the state continues to be difficult.

The 5 Percent Plan was put into effect in 2007 and ruled that, from 2007 to 2013, Maricopa County must reduce dust emissions, not including dust from natural events like storms and wind, by at least 5 percent every year, ABC 15 reports.

Although officials in the valley have said that they are practicing thorough dust control policies, PM10 dust, particles that are 10 or less microns in diameter, is still an issue for the state. The 5 Percent Plan has been amended several times since 2007 to try to reduce PM10, Cronkite News said.

With the help of the state, Maricopa County and local governments, the 5 Percent Plan now has more than 53 measures to control PM10, including a new program that will provide early notification about poor air quality conditions so that emissions can be reduced from high dust generators and more. 

Dust control policies in Arizona focus on awareness and education of dust control efforts, aiming to reduce pollution in areas that can be controlled, such as dust from construction and illegal burning for example, according to the Air Quality Department.

Based on my extensive experience dealing with local contractors, land development and home builders, the consensus is that not only have Soilworks dust control agents provided long-term effectiveness, but they have actually helped save companies money and improve profitability.  Controlling dust with just water is both wasteful and costly to continuously reapply to maintain effectiveness.  Often, the true cost of water is overlooked including, equipment rental, labor, insurance, water supply, fuel, maintenance and many others that quickly reduce margins unnecessarily.

Dust control is important because particle pollution has adverse health effects that impact the lungs and respiratory system. Silicosis, fibrosis, asthma, bronchitis, pneumoconiosis, valley fever and other illnesses are either worsened or caused by inhalation of dust and materials that get stirred into the air.