Public Lab Research note

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The DustHack Report

by stevie |

Lets Hack this Attack!

About the Event

The DustHack event was held October 27th, in Menomonie WI at the Hundredth Monkey Maker Space. In designing this event, we were aiming to both examine what community members’ monitoring interests were, as well as explore existing tools and monitoring options. The 17 attendees of the DustHack event shared knowledge and stories while we brainstormed about dust monitoring tools.


With our heads

In examining a useful air quality monitoring tools, participants examined the questions below in conversations, and on brainstorming sheets. The answers are captured and compiled here:

What do I want my dust tool to track?
PM10, PM2.5
Silica, piezo electric measurable?
Air concentrations of PM2.5 fugitive silica sand dust
Dust from sand trucks
I’ve noticed on hot sunny day it appears particles and/or humidity fires up in a thermal formation.
Dust in rain? Dust in rain gouges?

What would make this tool Easy to use?
Equipment Failure proof (at least a power-cycle restart + alert)
Easy enough for average people to use
If it was available at lower cost (eg a grant )
If it were simply provided to a citizen monitor
In-depth training
Instructions geared towards novices
Help with keeping it going
Set up a way to support yearly volunteer monitoring like the sunflower project
Explanation for the results, reportable to local governments
Please show up in WI more in anyway possible!


How do I want to access the data?
Online database (x3)
Data that can be downloaded by various systems
Maybe google fusion and/or maps engine
Have data about weather, wind included
In areas of potential for high concentrations, perhaps have e-mail/phone alerts

What do I want the online tools (where the data is available) to include?
Back up our data
Computer backup daily, use “freeze” software to restart

Questions I have: Is the “cement” of sandstone calcium carbonate, and thus not as dangerous as silica?
Can we speciate the dust?
Does fresh crushed sand have a piezo charge? (can we use a charged collector to detect?)

With our hands:

We also set up three dust monitoring tools including the CMU Spec, the Dylos monitor and the DustDuino. Outlining each tool in an informal discussion we discussed tool cost, the abilities of the tools in monitoring, the advantages or disadvantages there might be with them, questions we were thinking about exploring and if the tool was open source.

After this discussion we worked to explore the tools by examining how they responded to different light and humidity conditions, what different housing could be created for them to be used outdoors, and ways the tools could be made more user friendly. Although the event in the hands-on sense was exceptionally rewarding, the discussions the event sparked were even more valuable.


event wisconsin dustduino dust silica frac-sand midwest dylos mid-west


"Markdown" I'm wondering if silica can be separated from other micro or nano-particulates by dissolving all particles in a solution or series of solutions in order to dissolve or separate silica from non-silica particles. I'm thinking about this because silica is so inert. [I think glass etching uses hydroflouric acid, for example.] Such a method could be verified w. x-ray crystallography, and then used as a an evidence supported method.

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