Quantifying Bioavailable Metals and Potential Dust Emissions from Highway-Related and Desert Sediments at Lordsburg Playa, New Mexico

The goals of this project are to scope the presence of bioavailable metals and potential dust emissions from highway-related and desert sediments at Lordsburg Playa (dry lake bed), New Mexico, where Interstate 10 crosses a hotspot of dust storms and disruptions to transportation, and traffic crashes, are regularly experienced. The project team will determine the potential enhancement of bioavailable metals originating from transportation activities near the highway and impacting the local environment, as well as potential enhancement of bioavailable metals derived from non-transportation (mining) activities on the playa that could impact highway travelers and workers. The project team will determine relative exposures to bioavailable airborne metals from these activities and how they vary in space and time. The project will also assess the safety hazard to highway transportation at the Lordsburg Playa associated with dust from different areas under different environmental conditions, and will help assess how proposed mitigation plans would reduce this hazard. Field sample collection and site assessment, laboratory analysis, and numerical modeling will be used to achieve these goals, and the data and findings will be synthesized using geographic information systems (GIS) to inform stakeholders of potential health hazards from transportation‐ related vs. natural and mining‐related dust and metal exposures at Lordsburg Playa, further informing efforts to mitigate transportation safety hazards at Lordsburg Playa. These results will be relevant to numerous other highways, especially in the Western US, where numerous routes cross dry lake beds and/or dust hotspots.