The impact of a building implosion on Airborne Particulate Matter in an Urban Community

Christopher M. Beck, Alison Geyh, Arjun Srinivasan, Patrick N Breysse, Peyton A. Eggleston, Timothy J. Buckley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In response to community concerns, the air quality impact of imploding a 22-story building in east Baltimore, MD, was studied. Time- and space-resolved concentrations of indoor and outdoor particulate matter (PM) (nominally 0.5-10 μm) were measured using a portable nephelometer at seven and four locations, respectively. PMlo levels varied in time and space; there was no measurable effect observed upwind of the implosion. The downwind peak PM10 levels varied with distance (54,000-589 μg/m3) exceeding pre-implosion levels for sites 100 and 1130 m 3000- and 20-fold, respectively. Estimated outdoor 24-hr integrated mass concentrations varied from 15 to 72 μg/m3. The implosion did not result in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for PM10 being exceeded. X-ray fluorescence analysis indicated that the elemental composition was dominated by crustal elements: calcium (57%), silicon (23%), aluminum (7.6%), and iron (6.1%). Lead was above background but at a low level (0.17 μg/m3). Peak PM10 concentrations were short-lived; most sites returned to background within 15 min. No increase in indoor PM10 was observed even at the most proximate 250 m location. These results demonstrate that a building implosion can have a severe but short-lived impact on community air quality. Effective protection is offered by being indoors or upwind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1256-1264
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

Beck, C. M., Geyh, A., Srinivasan, A., Breysse, P. N., Eggleston, P. A., & Buckley, T. J. (2003). The impact of a building implosion on Airborne Particulate Matter in an Urban Community. Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association, 53(10), 1256-1264.