Dust Dataset

Dust Dataset

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Doña Ana County has some of the worst dust pollution in New Mexico. This is caused by many factors including low precipitation (rain, snow, hail, and sleet), large areas of bare ground, agricultural production, and high winds in some seasons. Increased dust pollution contributes to overall air pollution and can pose health risks, especially to those with heart and lung diseases.         


Researchers in Las Cruces are studying the changes in dust emissions caused by sudden changes to the land like construction and wildfires, and slow changes like climate change. This research will increase our understanding of how people affect dust emissions. The data below come from a study started in 2012 to understand seasonal amounts of dust particles in the air in different areas of the city. Dust collectors were installed at schools in different areas of Las Cruces to determine if the season or school location affects the amount of dust collected.




         A dust collector stack at the                  Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park.


Asombro Institute for Science Education staff and middle school students collected data from 2012 until the present. These are the methods used to collect data:


  • Dust collectors were placed at the school sites. The dust collectors were positioned in a holder that allows them to swing to face the wind direction (see photo).
  • At each site, dust from three dust collectors (at three different heights above ground) was collected once every 70-100 days. The dataset below includes the dust from all three of these collectors combined at each school.
  • Students and researchers used fine brushes and water to remove all soil from the collectors and put it in a sample bottle.
  • Sample bottles were brought to the lab, where the dust/water mixture was removed from the bottles. Organic material (e.g. leaves, insects) was removed.
  • Dust samples were dried in the oven for 48 hours and then weighed.
  • The mass of dust was divided by the number of days since the last collection date to find the average mass of dust collected each day. For instance, if a school collected 4 grams of dust and the last dust collection occurred 80 days ago, the mass of dust per day would be 0.05 g/day (4 grams divided by 80 days).




CODAP is a free educational software for data analysis, a product of The Concord Consortium (https://concord.org) and funded by NSF grants.