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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #172310


item Van Pelt, Robert - Scott
item Zobeck, Teddy

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2004
Publication Date: 7/26/2004
Citation: Van Pelt, R.S., Zobeck, T.M., Arimoto, R. 2004. Chemical composition of fugitive dust[ABSTRACT]. 2004 SOIL AN WATER CONSERVATION SOCIETY ANNUAL MEETING.

Interpretive Summary: Fugitive dust from eroding soils is attributed with disruptions of commerce, damage to equipment, and is considered a hazard to environmental and human health. Recently, agricultural production in certain regions of the country has become subject to dust reduction regulations. We sampled surface soils with known erosion and deposition histories, windborne sediments above an eroding surface, mechanically entrained dust, dust from 2 attics, and sieved surface soil and attic dust samples to determine the chemical compositions of these materials. We found that extremely high levels of nitrates, sulfates, and toxic trace elements such as mercury and cadmium in attic dust samples were primarily from industrial and vehicle emissions sources and not from agricultural fugitive dust sources.

Technical Abstract: Wind erosion is a common process in semi-arid regions that degrades soil and results in fugitive dust emissions that obscure visibility, damage crops and machinery, and are hazardous to human and environmental health. We sampled surface soils with known erosion and deposition histories, aeolian materials collected within 1 m of an eroding surface, mechanically entrained dust, mechanically sieved dust and surface soil, and dust from 2 attics. The samples were analyzed for particle size distribution, percent organic Carbon, water soluble anions, plant nutrients, and trace elements. In general, when compared to a non-eroded native range site, eroded and in-field deposition surface soils had lower concentrations of organic Carbon, plant nutrients and trace elements. Sieved surface soil samples showed that concentrations of organic Carbon, plant nutrients, and trace elements all increased as particle size decreased. Calcium was notably more enriched than average levels in aeolian samples collected over an eroding field. Dust collected from a tractor air cleaner was more highly enriched in Cadmium, Tin, Lead, and Strontium than the average for other elements analyzed, indicating a contribution from the combustion products of diesel fuel. The attic dust samples also had higher enrichments of these elements but also contained one order of magnitude higher enrichments for Nitrate, Sulfate, Mercury, and Zinc. The results of this study indicate that anthropogenic aerosols are more important contributors of plant nutrients and toxic trace elements to downwind ecosystems than are fugitive dusts from wind eroded soils.