Keeping down the dust |

Keeping down the dust

While old wood-burning stoves have been initially targeted in Truckee’s efforts to improve air quality, road sanding may be next in the cross hairs.

Truckee’s seventh annual Particulate Matter Air Quality Report shows decreasing trends in particulate (solid) air pollution as a result of the town’s woodstove change out program, which reduces fine particulate mater (under 2.5 microns).

But while fine particulate matter has decreased, Truckee was over national and state standards for coarse particulates of 10 microns or greater between 2004 and 2006, generated primarily by road sanding, according to the report.

In establishing a plan to reduce dust in the air from road sanding, the town would approach Caltrans to potentially modify their operations on Interstate 80 and local highways as well, according to the Truckee Air Quality Management Plan Control Strategy.

Typically, the town puts down about 1,000 tons of sand per year, depending on conditions, said Dan Wilkins, town engineer and public works director.

“The sand is swept up between storms, and we typically spend one-and-a-half months to two months in the spring on comprehensive cleanup,” Wilkins said.

Between 75 and 80 percent of the sand is recaptured he said, and then either taken to a Teichert Aggregates mine for recycling or to the Tahoe Sierra Disposal site for land fill sealing, he said.

Wilkins said recaptured sand can’t be re-used on roads because it becomes too fine to be effective.

The town also attempts to reduce sand usage, and therefor dust kicked-up into the atmosphere, by only sanding school bus routes, applying based on need, Wilkins said.

The equipment used also has filtration in place to reduce dust put out into the air, he said.

“Our current practice is to only use as much as necessary, clean it up as soon as possible, and use the best equipment,” Wilkins said.

Along Interstate 80 from Auburn to the state line, including on and off ramps and overpasses, Caltrans put down 24,450 tons of sand in 2005-06, said Caltrans Spokesperson Shelly Chernicki.

While Caltrans keeps figures for how much sand is recaptured in the Tahoe basin, figures are only available from what was taken out of drainage infrastructure on I-80, Chernicki said, which in 2005-06 totaled 434 tons.

The Town of Truckee has a mandatory woodstove changeout program to replace old, polluting woodstoves and fireplaces with new Environmental Protection Agency compliant wood or gas stoves.

Rebates are available to help with the changeout ” $300 for removing non-certified stoves and inserts, and $500 for removing and replacing with a pellet-fueled or gas-service stove.

The deadline for replacement is May 31, 2008.

For more information, contact the town at 582-7700, or go to

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