Superfund Research Program
Prediction and Properties of Airborne Dust Arising from Mining Sites
Final Progress Reports
The transport of metal(oid) contaminants (e.g. lead and arsenic) by dust and aerosol may have important consequences for human health in communities neighboring mining sites. This project assesses the routes of exposure to those contaminants. Computational models have been developed that allow for the prediction of contaminant transport due to windblown particles. The models have been validated by field data in two different sites: The City of Dewey-Humboldt in Arizona, where metal(oid) contaminants originate from a contaminated mine tailings impoundment, and the Hayden-Winkelman area in Arizona, in which a copper smelter is active. Atmospheric transport of metal(oid) contaminants assesses that distribution and inhalation potential in outdoor regions around mining sites. The research team have conducted a field survey of how the contaminants are transported through the outdoor/indoor barrier, and how dust and aerosol deposition affects exposure in both outdoor and indoor environments. Results indicate that, as expected, sub-micron particulate, which contain the highest contaminant load, are more effective in penetrating towards the indoor environment and that their distribution is sensitive to air circulation rates in the indoor environment.