UW-Eau Claire’s own little dust bowl
October 4, 2012
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Campus dust levels tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard during a research project this summer.
Dr. Crispin Pierce, Department of Public Health Professionals, with the help of Kristen Walters, a non-traditional student, conducted a sample of air quality for 7.8 hours during a three day period.
“I would call it a preliminary assessment,” Pierce said.
Pierce said he used a SKC Deployable Particulate Sampler, which is a device used to record how much air is pulled through the filter. By placing this device on the fence in front of Schneider Hall and the education building construction site, Pierce could get a concentration of mass that was in the air on campus.
According to the annual standard of air quality on the EPA website, Pierce’s research indicated significantly more dust in the air than the standard. However, the EPA standard was measured over 24 hours and Pierce’s research was measured over 7.8 hours.
Both the demolition of Davies and the construction of the new education building were going on during the July samplings.
Jennifer Saunders, a junior at UW-Eau Claire, said she was living in Eau Claire this summer.
“The dust and construction debris is something that I noticed a lot more during the summer than during the school year,” she said. “It was extremely uncomfortable and noticeable.”
Saunders said it is a downfall that air quality has to suffer because of the new facilities, but the research is something that can be used in the future with the building of the new dorms and the construction coming in the downtown area of Eau Claire.
“I definitely think it is going to be very helpful considering we are planning on expanding so much in other areas,” Saunders said.
Pierce said the research came about after he had been looking at sand plants and the effects the particulates, or matter particles, had on people living in the area. He wanted to see how much exposure to the dust particles people living near a sand plant or sand mine were getting.
Pierce said he would like to do a follow up analysis over a 24 hour period. He has been talking with Miron Construction Company, who is working on the education building construction, to get approval for the research.
“The company that I work for is extremely concerned about not just air quality but safety in general,” said Kevin Hildebrandt, director of risk management at Miron.
Hildebrandt said the company is concerned for the safety of their people, the local community and the facility users.
Miron and Pierce have not yet come to an agreement in terms of a follow up sampling, but Pierce would like more information about the air quality.
Pierce said, “I don’t think we have enough information to say that there is a concern, I think we have had some dusty conditions (in the initial analysis), we would like to follow up.”