By Bill Coats
Rodney and Tiffany Shedd’s farm just north of Arizona City has 460 acres of cotton. Dirt roads lead to and from the fields. They crisscross the property, including a long and curving drive up to the farmhouse from Battaglia Road.
The roads have a 15 mph speed limit, marked with a sign.
It is one piece of an effort to reduce dust. It’s an effort that keeps the Shedds a step ahead of new anti-dust rules imposed on farmers in Pinal County.
“We have always been conscious of our environment,” Rodney said. “We live off our land.”
Rodney and Tiffany sat at their dining room table as they discussed these rules, known as best management practices. They’re meant to bring the county’s agricultural sector into compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.
In May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared a large portion of Pinal County in violation of the act. The formal term is nonattainment – in this case for particulates known as PM10. These are fine particles – largely dust – that measure about one-seventh the width of a human hair.
They can lodge in the respiratory system and damage lung tissue and, in some cases, lead to death. The elderly, children and people with lung disease, including asthma, are particularly vulnerable.
Mitigating PM10 is a curve the Shedds want to stay ahead of.