Met One Instruments, Inc. working with CH2M Hill, has put together an environmental monitoring network on the dry lakebed of Owens Lake in California. The system continuously monitors particulate levels, as well as current weather conditions. The dry lakebed was formed when water from the Owens River was diverted to Los Angeles in 1913. By 1926 what was once one of the largest lakes in California was reduced to a large arid alkaline bed (playa). The dry lake bed produces as much as 300,000 tons of windblown dust per year, and some dust level estimates have been listed as high as 8 million metric tons per year. These dust storms, commonly known in the area as the “Keeler Fog”, were named after a local town on the East side of the lakebed. The key environmental concern is that the most of this windblown material is of particle sizes less than 10 microns in size (PM10). These micro sized particles are those that are most commonly associated with respiratory tract problems because they are small enough to be inhaled deeply into the lungs. To make matters worse, about 1% of the dust material is arsenic based, and a smaller amount is cadmium. These are both known carcinogens..

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