As the sea evaporates, it leaves behind dust containing hazardous pollutants such as selenium, arsenic and trace of pesticides. These sediment particles are picked up by desert winds and can be carried over hundreds of miles of land.

These dust particles are measured as Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10). PM10 are particles that measure about 10 microns in diameter and are small enough that they can enter the deepest parts of our lungs. PM10 are usually generated by smoke, soot, dust, salts, acids, metals, and exhaust. PM10 is viewed as one of the most harmful pollutants, and have been linked to an increasing severity of asthma and other lung diseases.

Particles that measure 2.5 microns or less are within the PM2.5 scale and are tiny enough to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream. These particles can cause a more serious variety of health issues; respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are all common consequences of short and long term exposure. Individuals with greater risk factors such as age and predisposed diseases could be at higher risk of hospitalization and mortality. 

 

To address the impacts of public health, Imperial Irrigation District is currently applying waterless dust suppression methods to reduce the severity of the air quality.

Public Health

Size comparisons for PM particles

Source: Digital image. Particulate Matter (PM) Pollution. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Sept. 2017. 

<https://www.epa.gov/pm-pollution/particulate-matter-pm-basics>.