The Metro: Why Dearborn amended its dust ordinance with stricter standards

The Dearborn City Council recently amended its ‘bulk storage’ ordinance to help reduce ‘fugitive dust’ and improve air quality in the city.

Aerial view of the Dearborn area.

Aerial view of the Dearborn area.

Fugitive dust — it sounds like bad air gone awry. And honestly, that’s not such a bad characterization.

Fugitive dust is pollution that comes from commercial sites, often a side effect of construction or moving heavy material. It’s that dustbowl-like scene you can see around industrial projects.And in Dearborn, it’s been a problem for years.

That’s why the Dearborn City Council recently voted to amend the city’s “bulk storage” ordinance, creating new minimum standards for the safe handling and storage of bulk solid materials. The ordinance aims to limit fugitive dust and reduce air pollution in the city.

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Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud joined The Metro on Wednesday to discuss the amended fugitive dust ordinance in Dearborn. 

“Think about this, you know, if you just wash your car, you drive a white pickup truck or something on the way home to the south and by the time you park in your driveway, your car will be covered in soot,” Hammoud said. “And that’s because this dust, this particulate matter, is escaping these industrial parcels and making their way not only onto your parcels, onto your homes, onto your playgrounds, but also into your lungs. And so for us, what we’re trying to do is reduce the likelihood of fugitive dust occurring in our neighborhoods.”

Asthma rates in the Dearborn area are two to four times higher compared to Michigan’s average, Hammoud said. 

“For the average residents of Dearborn, hopefully you’re going to see, from a visibility measure, you’re going to see shorter piles, you’re going to see enclosures coming up, enclosing some of these piles,” he said. “And with time, you’ll begin to see less tracked out, and less fugitive dust over at your parcel, at your park, at your school, on your vehicles — hopefully helping to improve your public health each and every single day.” 

Use the media player above to hear the full interview with Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud.

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