DEARBORN — While the authority to regulate air quality lies with the state of Michigan, the city of Dearborn is seeking to address residents’ concerns by creating an ordinance that mitigates air pollution caused by “fugitive dust.”
“Fugitive dust” refers to visible particulate emissions created through mechanical processes or natural forces, and comes from a variety of sources like dust blowing off storage piles, or dust distributed on unpaved roads or lots.
“We are the best advocates for our own residents, and so are covering the gaps in what the state of Michigan should be regulating to improve the health of our community members,” Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said.
Dust is a major component of particulate pollution and, when inhaled, can cause airway irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing, and aggravate asthma. In addition, excessive dust pollution is often a general public nuisance, as it can cause reduced visibility and contribute to haze.
“One of the main air pollution issues has to do with particulate matter,” said David Norwood, the city’s sustainability coordinator. “Those are hard on respiratory systems, especially with regard to children and the elderly.”
Commercial and industrial entities found in violation of the fugitive dust ordinance will receive a notice of violation and will be given 14 days to correct the violation. A ticket will be issued if the problem is not resolved within 14 days.
Violation of the ordinance is a civil infraction punishable by a fine of $500. A repeat violation is punishable as a civil infraction with a fine of $1,000.
Fines collected from enforcement of the ordinance will be placed in a city fund to be used to pay for projects or initiatives designed to address public health, pollution prevention and reduction, and environmental protection and restoration.
More details about the new ordinance will be found in Sec. 13-5.1 and Sec. 13-5.3 of the City’s Code of Ordinances, which can be accessed at cityofdearborn.org.
Residents in the city’s South End have been particularly affected by air pollution, being near extensive industrial properties in Dearborn, Melvindale and Detroit.
“We care deeply about our residents and are working as much as we can to reduce pollution to the extent possible,” said City Council President Susan Dabaja, who spearheaded the initiative to develop the ordinance. “We want to ensure all of our residents have a high quality of life.”
Dearborn residents were an essential part of the process to draft the ordinance. O’Reilly directed the contributions of Norwood, as well as those of Brad Mendelsohn of the city’s Legal Department. The City Council unanimously approved the ordinance on Aug. 25.
For more information about the enforcement of the ordinance, please call the Property Maintenance and Development Services Department at 313-943-2688.