Air Quality has become an increasingly important topic at EU level.
For the aggregates extraction industry, this new attention is reflected mainly in a closer monitoring of Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5) emissions, more commonly known referred to as dust.
What are particulate matters aka dust?
Dust is always and everywhere present in our daily lives: house dust at home, street dust or on the way to work. Dust can be created by natural activities, such as erosion of rocks by water, wind, volcanic activity, or by (industrial) mechanical processes, and is then transported by wind.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concerns if certain dust concentrations in ambient air is reached, as dust pollution can impact biodiversity, agriculture and human health. To that end, it has issued recommendations in the form of limit values or thresholds. In the frame of the Ambient Air Quality Directive, EU Member States ought to daily determine values of PM10 and PM2.5 (referring to the size in μg/m³) in the air and take appropriate measures if certain limit values are exceeded.
How does the European Aggregates Industry ensure that dust emissions remains limited?
Aggregates producers are minor emitter of particulate matter in comparison to private or public transportation. However, mineral dust emission can occur during the extraction and processing of construction raw materials, especially during dry and windy weather conditions.
Extraction and processing of construction raw materials are always conditioned to permits entailing air quality provisions. Such permits are issued in accordance with the environmental protection and occupational health and safety regulations in force in Europe and the respective Member States, which is why the provisions aim at minimising dust generations.
To limit dust emissions, extraction companies have invested in dust reduction/suppression techniques including dust-laying sprayers, fixed sprinklers, or water curtains and/or by developing hard surface roads on-site and constructing screening mounds.
Does the European Aggregates Industry emit other kind of emissions impacting air quality?
The industry’s share of other industrial emissions as referred to the EU Industrial Emissions Directive is negligible.
Aside from dust, no pollutants are emitted into atmosphere during extraction.