Air Sciences and its partners have worked with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on mitigating dust in the Owens Valley of California for decades. The work of these experts is now being published in Aeolian Research as part of a larger investigation into the modern destabilization and migration of the Keeler Dunes Complex – a small shoreline dune system in the northeast corner of Owens (dry) Lake.
2020 has presented Air Sciences with many opportunities for retooling. As a small business, we quickly enacted a work-from-home policy with some routines to keep everyone healthy but also balanced. Daily facetime through all-company meetings and even some virtual happy hours have kept our close-knit teams connected and thriving. The small blessings of this newfound flexibility (and home-cooked lunches) are quickly displaced, however, by the anxiety we all feel around the ongoing turmoil in economic and public health arenas.
Dust from wind traveling across open land areas is a common phenomenon on all continents of the world. Whether a tilled field or a geographic feature like a dry lakebed, these areas can emit dust that impacts public respiratory health. Knowing the potential for adverse health effects is difficult to quantify. Varying surface conditions, weather, and rates of emission are inherent to this challenge. Read more
Soil erosion from wind has plagued agriculture for centuries. More recently, mining operations, construction, and water diversion projects have been facing similar problems. Eroded soil can become suspended in the atmosphere and lead to violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
For industry, the most common solution is watering the ground, which increases soil cohesion and reduces dust emissions. Water, though, is often in short supply or prohibitive in cost. For this reason, Air Sciences is using industrial-scale tilling methods to inhibit dust emissions in complex regulatory environments. The solution is water-free, inexpensive, monitorable, and maintainable.
North American playas are large dust emitters. Dotting the deserts of the Southwestern United States, these dry lake beds are highly saline from the concentration of salts following evaporation. These salt deposits can become entrained in the air when winds scour the dried lakebed. The resulting saline dust has a high fraction of halogenated compounds, primarily those containing chlorine. When the chlorine-containing aerosols (the dust that remains suspended in the atmosphere) mix with nitrogen oxides (primarily dinitrogen pentoxide), a gas called nitryl chloride (ClNO2) is produced. Sunlight interacts with ClNO2, breaking it apart into chlorine radicals that participate in the formation of tropospheric ozone.