Times matter, the impact of dust events on air quality in the greater Phoenix area, Arizona

dc.creatorAziz, Tarak
dc.description.abstractDust events are common in the greater Phoenix area, which impact the air quality of millions of people who live in the area. This research project aims to investigate the impact of these dust events on air quality by observing the concentrations of particulate matter (PM) at hourly and 10-minute intervals. The study utilizes fourteen sensors with raw (5-minute) PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations (defined as particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of up to 10 m and 2.5 m, respectively) collected from multiple sensors across the Greater Phoenix Area, along with official hourly measurements from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). After quality control and comparison between the official and raw PM sensors, only seven PM10 sensors were selected for further analysis. Using our database of dust events, a total of 93 convective dust events that occurred from July and August 2015 to 2021 were investigated. Four dust events were selected to emphasize the time-sensitivity aspect. These four dust events contained two that were classified as dust storms and two classified as dust events. Out of these four dust days, two had daily values above the recommended daily threshold for PM10 by the EPA (150 g m-3) and two days had daily values below that threshold. The findings demonstrated that the use of the traditional (daily and hourly average) methods in order to examine the impact of dust events on air quality via observations of PM10 concentrations underestimates the concentrations in the air and minimizes the risk of estimated exposure. PM10 concentrations during the peak of the dust events based on 10-minute intervals (short term) were significantly higher (1.2 up to 5.2 times) compared to hourly averages. These findings were found regardless of if the dust was a dust storm or a dust event, or if its daily PM10 concentrations were above or below the EPA thresholds. These findings emphasize the need to capture transient spikes accurately to be able to evaluate the exposure of dust particles during dust events. There is a need to have a better understanding of PM10 dynamics during dust events and emphasize the importance of considering shorter periods for accurate assessment.
dc.description.abstractEmbargo status: Restricted until 09/2028. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.
dc.subjectAir Quality
dc.subjectParticulate Matter
dc.subjectTime Interval
dc.titleTimes matter, the impact of dust events on air quality in the greater Phoenix area, Arizona


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