PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - In the Acreage, unpaved roads are a part of life. But for one couple and their neighbors, the unpaved roads are chipping away at their quality of life.
Rhonda Tesch and her husband, Ernest, say the dirt roads may be too dirty. "This, to me, is unacceptable," said Rhonda. "You can just feel the powder. You can taste it. You can feel it build up in your eyes."
"You can feel it scratching in your throat," said Ernest. "I can feel it right now." The Tesch's have lived on 130th Avenue North for twenty years. They say they have always loved everything about the area until now.
The Tesch's say after the destructive flooding left behind by Tropical Storm Isaac, the Indian Trail Improvement District reinforced many of the 389 miles of unimproved roads with a material that gets kicked up by traffic and passerby. The Tesch's are concerned that those particles may get into their lungs. "I am concerned about the material that they laid, and the material we are breathing," said Rhonda.
The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration has found that some kinds of dust can, in fact, cause respiratory problems. But Engineering staff from the Indian Trail Improvement District say that the Tesch's concerns that this dust is dangerous are likely unfounded.
The material laid on the roads in the Acreage after the flooding came from Palm Beach Aggregates in the western part of the county. Staffers say it is known as Base Rock or Shell Rock and that it must meet FDOT physical and chemical requirements before it is used anywhere. In short, district officials say, it is safe.
Even with that reassurance, the Tesch's say that they will continue to try to avoid breathing in the dust. "It's the amount of dust, and how it billows and sticks together," said Rhonda.
A representative from the Improvement District met with the Tesch's to discuss their concerns on Wednesday. The couple says the district has offered to make periodic trips throughout the area to water the dusty roads down.