After months of research in response to requests from residents in the Traverse Mountain area, the Lehi mayor and City Council released a letter Thursday addressing the dust from mass grading at the Point of the Mountain.
“In recent months, we have received a number of comments from residents regarding the potential health risks from dust associated with mass grading. We take the health of our residents seriously and will do what is within our power to ensure that we protect the health of our community,” the letter signed by the mayor and council members stated.
Not being experts in dust mitigation and environmental concerns, city officials reached out to representatives from Utah County, the Utah Division of Air Quality, or DAQ, and the Utah Department of Health. They learned about fugitive dust, silica levels and impact of transient exposure to dust particles on health.
The letter references information from Sam LeFevre of the Environmental Epidemiology Program, or EEP, of the Utah Department of Health, stating that, “While construction work that puts a lot of dirt in the air is annoying, it is not a significant public health concern.”
Fugitive dust containing silica is harmful, though, when people are consistently exposed to fine dust particles over multiple years. This exposure can lead to silicosis or other illnesses. The letter explained that the dust at the Point of the Mountain counts as “transient public exposure.” While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a toxicological profile for silica to address potential health concerns, there is no recommendation for transient public exposure. This leads to insufficient data to indicate that there is a health concern, according to EEP information.
“While these agencies do not feel fugitive dust is posing a significant health risk to our residents, we remain concerned with the overall health and well-being of our community,” the letter states.
To address the continued concern, the mayor and council announced the creation of an Environmental Sustainability Committee to look into health and environmental risks within the city. In addition to continuing the investigation into the dust issues at the Point of the Mountain, the committee will also monitor air pollution, vehicle idling, storm water pollution and other environmental concerns for city residents.
“This will help us target issues that are harmful to our health and are within our ability to address. This committee will also work to improve our recycling efforts. More information about this program will be coming in the near future,” the letter states.
The mayor and council encouraged residents to file complaints about the fugitive dust with the DAQ, as that entity monitors and enforces dust opacity levels. Residents can reach the DAQ online through http://bit.ly/2Jf7E5M.
The full Lehi letter and reference information is available at https://lehi-ut.gov/planning/fugitive-dust-mitigation.