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Air Quality

The following information is meant to educate you to the potential air quality impacts of hard-rock quarries, asphalt and concrete plants. 

Quarries, concrete and asphalt plants threaten air quality and the health of workers and local residents by emitting "particulate matter" into the air.  Particulate matter is any particle that is suspended in the air---either solid or liquid.  


The most common solid particle that is emitted into the air in a quarry is granite dust.  Granite dust contains silica, a glass substance.  Silica dust is produced when rock is blasted or drilled. It has long been known that silica dust causes silicosis, an irreversible, progressive, incurable, and at later stages fatal lung disease.

Occupational exposure to silica occurs at workplaces in factories like quartz crushing facilities (silica flour milling), agate, ceramic, slate pencil, glass, stone quarries and mines, etc., Non-occupational exposure to silica dust can be from industrial sources in the vicinity of the industry as well as non-industrial sources. Recently, public concern regarding non-occupational or ambient exposure to crystalline silica has emerged making it important to gather information available on non-occupational exposures to silica dust and non-occupational silicosis.1

Silicosis is caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust. Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and most other types of rock, and it is used as an abrasive blasting agent. Silicosis is a progressive, disabling, and often fatal lung disease.2

Cancer and other diseases

Granite dusts and concrete dusts may also cause cancer. (IARC, 1997). As well, several studies show that dust exposure can cause cardiovascular (heart) diseases (Seaton, et. al. 1995).  Also known to be caused by concrete dusts are inflammation of the lungs, allergic reactions, and dermatoses (skin diseases).

2018 Update: Gibraltar Rock’s air-quality permit has expired.  The company is required to re-apply and have an approved air-quality permit before the quarry could begin operations.

Air Quality Press Release


The Paradise Watchdogs published the first in a series of reports on the environmental impact of a hard rock quarry, asphalt plant, and ready-mix concrete plant to residents of New Hanover Township.


This report on air quality issues was researched and written by

Roger Buchanan, the Paradise Watchdog’s Vice-president, as a

statement to the Secretary of the PA Department of Environmental



The report calls for the rejection of the Gibraltar Rock Inc.’s air

quality plan, submitted to the DEP, because:

  • It is inaccurate, incomplete, and fails to employ the best available technology.

  • Recent scientific finding on health risk associated with super fine and invisible dust generated by quarry operations makes a quarry a health hazard for those living and working close to the proposed quarry.

  • Super fine quarry generated dust acts as a trigger for those susceptible to asthmatic attacks and is harmful to those with heart and respiratory ailments.

  • The proposed quarry is surrounded by open space that lacks trees and other natural filters to protect residents from super fine quarry dust.

  • There are approximately 760 students and projected 1000 senior citizens in the proposed Heritage retirement village within ½ mile of the proposed quarry---both groups with low tolerance to quarry generated toxic air pollution.

  • Most importantly, there is no one paying attention to protecting those who will be harmed. The DEP will not consider the impact of dust on the human environment, and New Hanover Township is severely limited in its ability to protect the health of those who live adjacent to an area zoned for industrial development.


The report, with a cover letter to the DEP and was mailed this

week, with copies to local and state government representatives

and environmental groups.

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