Lafarge, the cement company, has taken responsibility for the mysterious dust landing and sticking around the Village of Bath over the last week.
Starting last week, Bath residents were waking up to their vehicles and homes covered in a thick, white, sticky dust that wouldn’t come off with water. Although some residents suspected the substance was coming from the nearby cement plant, neither Loyalist Township or Lafarge had previously confirmed this suspicion.
But on Wednesday, after investigating the substance, Lafarge says they believe the dust “is likely comprised of clinker dust from our Bath cement plant.”
“Clinker dust” is a byproduct of the process used to make cement components, and contains calcium oxide, which can be a skin irritant.
Earlier this week, Bath residents raised concerns about air quality in the area, since the substance was airborne for quite some time.
When asked if the dust might be dangerous for the residents who might have been inhaling it for more than a week, the cement company responded:
“Lafarge does not believe that there will be any lasting health effects from the cement clinker dust emitted from the facility last week and we are in the process of confirming that to put our neighbour’s minds at ease.”
Lafarge also said on Wednesday they believe they have solved the issue that caused the dust to fall in the first place.
“The plant is now operating normally and additional releases are not expected, and actions are being implemented to ensure this,” Lafarge said in an email.
After receiving several complaints from residents in Bath, a councillor from Loyalist Township reached out to Lafarge on Saturday to ask them to investigate the issue.
The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks say they also began an investigation on Oct. 25, after receiving complaints the day before about the dust.
“Air specialists attended the area on Oct. 25 and 28 to assess and collect samples to determine the possible cause and source of the substance,” a ministry statement read.
Both the ministry and Loyalist Township say air quality tests have yet to be concluded, and did not identify a source for the dust.
Despite not laying the blame on the cement plant, Loyalist Township Mayor Ric Bresee said the township is in talks with Lafarge “to mitigate the risk of this happening again in the future.”
Bresee also noted that the cement company has told the township they planned to clean vehicles affected by the dust.
—With files from Shauna Cunningham.