The frequency and intensity of dust and sand storms in many parts of the world are steadily increasing due to droughts and climate change. The severity of such storms is anticipated to increase over the coming years. These dust storms may last hours or days and cause huge damage and imposed a heavy toll on society with its physical effects, such as visibility reduction, heavy winds, red sky, hailstone and severe lightning. Such Dust storms, have a negative impact on human health, and industrial products and activities. They reduce visibility, layer on skin and cloths, infiltrate buildings and find their way into food and drinking water leaving a permanent sandy feeling in your mouth. Traditional dust monitoring instruments whether they be purely filter based gravimetric samplers or continuous monitors utilising Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance (TEOM) or Beta Attenuation (BAM) simply are unable to cope with the high dust loads created by these storms. The filters on these instruments are quickly clogged and no further measurements are possible until a service technician visits to replace filters and filter tapes. In dust storm events this is impossible. Therefore, over the past few years a need for alternate technology which are non filter based, can cope with extremely high dust loads, require minimal maintenance and can operate off solar power has been employed in regions such as the Gobi Desert of China for the continuous monitoring of dust storm events. These instruments have demonstrated that an instrument can measure dust storm events with maintenance performed only once every 12 months. That it is possible to communicate remotely and that these systems can not only provide an early warning for dust events but have the accuracy and sensitivity to be an extremely useful tool in gauging hourly changes of visibility. Infact such instruments have been utilised by a number of EPAs around the world, including all Australian EPAs for the purpose of measuring ambient visibility as well as providing an accurate indication of rising dust events.
By Ecotech Pty Ltd based in Knoxfield, AUSTRALIA.
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