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Airborne Dust and Manure
are Nothing to Horse Around With

This month, fun events and competition of the annual Tucson Rodeo Fiesta de los Vaqueros bring to mind horse management issues that equine enthusiasts need to address continually. Horse manure and airborne dust generated in horse corrals or arenas require constant attention for horse health, good relations with neighbors, and legal obligations.

Manure Issues
When not managed properly, horse manure can pollute the environment as ground or surface water pollution, affect the health of horses and caretakers, promote unwanted insect breeding, and become a nuisance to neighbors by generating excessive odors and flies.

The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) receives many manure complaints each year. Horse manure is considered a solid waste by state law and must be handled, stored, and/or disposed of properly to prevent pollution and to keep it from becoming a public nuisance. Basic control options include direct land application, composting, and removal by waste haulers. For more information on regulatory compliance and manure management, click on www.deq.pima.gov/waste/.

Airborne Dust Issues
Active horse arenas and corrals are disturbed areas which can cause dust to become airborne. This airborne dust is particulate pollution and it can sift onto neighboring properties and into neighbors’ lungs causing respiratory or other health problems. Dust may become airborne during the time of the activity or at a later date, especially during high wind events, since the surface soil crust has been disturbed.

PDEQ also receives complaints and inquiries regarding airborne dust from horse activity each year. Airborne dust is a criteria air pollutant and reasonable precautions must be taken to reduce excessive dust emissions from a site or during an activity. Solutions to consider for controlling dust in horse corrals and arenas include:

• making sure the ground base is properly compacted;
• watering heavily (at least 2” down) and seldom (as opposed to lightly and frequently) to coat particles and make them stick together;
• applying stable/wood shavings, wood chips, mulch, compost, or fiber additives to footing to help retain moisture and prevent footing breakdown; and
• using environmentally friendly dust suppressant products.

Check the internet and read articles to learn about advantages and limitations to these methods. Click on www.deq.pima.gov/air/FugitiveDustProgram.htm for more information regarding airborne dust.

Manure and dust are challenges that horse enthusiasts have dealt with throughout history, and handling these issues properly maintains horse health, good relations with neighbors, and a healthier environment. YEE HAA!




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