Monitoring fugitive dust emission sources arising from construction: A remote-sensing approach

Frederick S. Pianalto, Stephen R. Yool

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Construction-related soil disturbance (e.g., road construction, trenching, land stripping, earthmoving, and blasting) is a significant source of fugitive (airborne) dust in the atmosphere. Fugitive dust is a primary cause of decreased air quality and may carry airborne pathogens. We use Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) remote-sensing data spanning 1994 through 2009 over southern Arizona to identify source areas of construction-related activity likely to produce fugitive dust. We correlate temporal changes in the mid-infrared spectral response to dust sources from local construction. Image differencing of the TM band 5 (mid-infrared), with a change threshold of ×5 SD of the mean, suitably estimates the location and area affected by constructionrelated soil disturbance. Estimated dust-producing surface area ranges from 10.0 (1996-1997) to 28.3 km2 (2004-2005), or 0.16-0.44% of the Pima County study area. Our methods aim to automate monitoring of fugitive dust sources by environmental and health agencies and to provide inputs to dust transport, air quality, and climate models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-270
Number of pages20
JournalGIScience and Remote Sensing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2013


  • Construction
  • Fugitive dust
  • Image differencing
  • Landsat
  • Remote sensing
  • Soil disturbance
  • Valley Fever

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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