Keeping the dust down while picking dirt up

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage maintenance crews are on the main roads sweeping up the winter’s debris. It can be a dusty process, but the Municipality has “dust control guidelines” in place for both the professionals and everyday people. The goal is to minimize airborne dust which can affect people with allergies and asthma.

According to Paul VanLandingham, Street Maintenance Manager, the muni keeps it simple: water. “We have the resources to supply a couple of water trucks for each of our sweeping operations, so we're able to keep the dust down pretty good.”

Businesses and individuals are also expected to take reasonable measures to keep dust from going airborne. Dry manual sweeping—with a broom—is allowed, but using leaf blowers and similar equipment is prohibited.

“Leaf blowers are not allowed for the use of dry sweeping particulate matter just because of the huge amounts of airborne dust they tend to create,” says Matthew Stichick, Air Quality Specialist with the municipality. “Try to use techniques that do not create as much dust,” says Stichick. “Hand sweeping is always recommended if possible, but dry sweeping with a leaf blower is never appropriate.

VanLandingham says sweeping all the municipal streets takes about six to eight weeks. Multi-lane roads and feeder streets are cleared first, followed by residential. The municipality changes the starting point of the sweeping operation each year. “We’re going south to north this year, so we'll start in Ocean View and typewriter our way across until we get to Government Hill,” says VanLandingham. Next year, the route will go from north to south.

To know when the street sweepers will be in your neighborhood, there is a map on the Municipality’s website. You can also sign up at Nixle for street maintenance updates. If you input your zip code you will get an alert when the sweepers are moving toward your area.

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