A microscopic analysis of dust around Missoula’s railroad tracks shows traces of coal, but the study doesn’t provide many conclusions or answers for residents concerned about the impact of coal trains passing through town.
“This dust for the most part isn’t a significant or measurable percentage of pm 2.5, which we have most concern with,” Missoula City-County Environmental Health Director Jim Carlson said on Friday. “Dust isn’t regulated, and we’re not in the position of setting standards, nor are we going to attempt to. Local air pollution control programs aren’t even allowed to set standards.”
The City-County Health Department sent several samples of dust to McCrone Associates, a materials testing firm in Illinois. The company used two kinds of microscopes to learn what kinds of materials were in the samples. The samples were taken on April 16 in the 200 block of Railroad Street, 314 N. First St., and on the pedestrian bridge over the tracks. The report cost $1,800.