Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Madison's air has high levels of particle pollution

The American Lung Association said the Madison area is one of the worst places* in the country for particle pollution in the air, according to a new study.

Many pounds of mud per tire
Construction sites are a major source of dust in the air.  When vehicles leave construction sites, they lay a track of mud that lasts for miles.  The mud turns to road dust--soon becoming air pollution.

Defense against dust--gravel pads

A thick pad of gravel at the entrance keeps vehicle tires out of the mud.

But many contractors do not have the required 50' pads of 3"washed gravel.
Three-inch rocks are needed in the pad is to shake the mud off the tires.

Many contractors rely instead on existing pavement--for example an old parking lot next to the construction site--as a substitute for a gravel pad.  But the pavement doesn't provide the shaking of the required gravel pad.

Last year, Contractor Report visited many construction sites, and found that the majority had deficient pads.  Many pads were too short or covered with mud--and many sites had no pads at all.  

Some contractors like Speedway Sand and Gravel (at Edgewood Av in 2010) began work before the pads were installed.  Another example was 2010 construction on the Hillcrest-Upland Greenway.

This spring, the percent of construction sites with adequate pads has increased, thanks to better inspection by the City.  Nevertheless, I've found deficient pads at Findorff Construction sites in Monona and Madison.

Water tight trucks

Another cause of dust from construction sites is loading wet soil into dump trucks that leave the site.  Trucks carrying mud are supposed to be water tight.

Last summer, I tracked a truck dribbling mud for six miles from construction on University Avenue.

This spring, I observed muddy dribbles leaving the Miron Construction site on the UW campus (Lakeshore Residence).

Madison should begin using the BMP of washing tires at construction sites.

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Some contractors who ignore regulations on gravel pads
Findorff Construction  Madison Madison Monona
Speedway Sand and Gravel

*  A few months ago we learned of Chromium in Madison's water supply.  Now it's high levels of particle pollution.  Is Madison slowly losing it's place as a healthy place to live?

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