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Dust from wire-cutting marble, Favizel, Portugal




The IUGS/GEM Working Group on Dust has been concerned with the improvement of investigation and understanding of both dust and other particulates such as PM10s and finer emissions. It has been estimated that as much as 2 billion tonnes of dust is entrained in the atmosphere per annum Exposure to dust in the open environment is usually accepted as a fact of life, while exposure to dust in the workplace is regulated to a greater or lesser degree in many countries. While the impacts of dust from industrial processes on human health is well recognised and widely regulated, less attention has been paid to dust from geological sources and to less visually obvious finer particulates. This is, perhaps, due to information being widely scattered in scientific papers with few, if any, widely accessible syntheses of the key facts. Also, research is in many respects at an early stage because of practical difficulties of observing, monitoring and sampling diffuse aerosols in the complexly moving atmospheric column. However, dust performs an important function in the atmosphere, with individual particles acting as nucleation centres for droplets that become precipitation (rain, snow etc) that is essential to life and geomorphological processes. Deposited dust may also, in time, add beneficially to soil formation. There is a need to promulgate present knowledge more widely and to identify matters that need more research in order to address the impacts on people, agriculture, livestock and the natural environment. This is made more imperative because climate change is altering the scale and nature of impacts. 


Aim and objectives


The aim has been to improve responses to emissions of dust and other particulates with the objectives of:


a) review, collate and dissemination of material on the existing understanding of the nature, behaviour and impacts of dust and particulates in the earth system and to stimulate new investigations into associated under-researched areas;


b) review existing legislation, regulation and management responses and to set out good practices in forms that can be readily appreciated and followed by administrators, land managers and the public; and


c) to develop and disseminate innovative approaches to dealing with dust issues.


Activities and publications


Contributions were made to sessions at the:

  • 23rd Colloquium on African Geology in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa; and
  •  ISPRS Workshop on Health and the Environment in Santa Fe, USA in September 2011.
  • 4th International Medical Geology Conference in Bari, Italy, in association with IMGA. It attracted 17 presentations and 11 posters the abstracts of which were published.


 Contributions were made to, and sessions were held at:

  •  the 48th Annual Session of the Co-ordinating Committee for Geoscience Programmes in East and South-East Asia;
  •  The European Geosciences Union Conference in Vienna;
  •  the 34th International Geological Congress in Brisbane, Australia

 Other publications prepared were:

  •  H Datson and B R Marker Dust from Mineral Workings was published in “Geoscientist”.
  •  H Datson and B R Marker Acceptable dust levels at minerals sites was published in “Mineral Planning”.
  •  B R Marker “Impacts of mineral dust” was published in Episodes.


 The Working Group contributed to sessions at the

  •   European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting in Vienna on Medical Geology – Radionuclides and Dust”;
  •   5th International Medical Geology Conference, Arlington, Virginia, USA.


Sessions were held at:

  • the Dust 2014 Conference at Castellaneta Marinara, Italy; and
  • the 12th IAEG Congress in Turin, Italy.
Background paper on dust and other particulates
Initial list of members

Note of the inception meeting held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in October 2009

Report of 2010 meeting in Windhoek, Namibia 

Brian Marker,
Jan 13, 2010, 8:49 AM
Brian Marker,
Feb 13, 2013, 1:02 AM
Daniel Stapper,
Sep 21, 2010, 12:07 PM
Brian Marker,
Jan 13, 2010, 8:49 AM
Brian Marker,
Jan 13, 2010, 8:49 AM
Jonas Satkunas,
Aug 27, 2012, 11:41 PM