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Road Dust Management Future Needs 2008 (TPD1110024)


2008 Conference Proceedings

Publication No. FHWA-CFL/TD-11-004                                              September 2011

Central Federal Lands Highway Division

12300 West Dakota Avenue

Lakewood, CO 80228


The Federal Lands Highway (FLH) of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) promotes development and deployment of applied research and technology applicable to solving transportation-related issues on Federal lands. The FLH provides technology delivery, innovative solutions, recommended  best practices,  and related  information  and knowledge  sharing to Federal  agencies, Tribal  governments,  and other offices within the  FHWA.

This report provides information from the 2008 Road Dust Management and Future Needs Conference, a first-of-its-kind event for those interested in mitigating dust from unpaved roads. While unpaved roads provide important linkages in the overall road network, the dust created from these surfaces creates environmental  challenges.   Although  considerable  experimentation on a variety of chemical additives has been carried out in the last 70 years, chemical dust control and unsealed-road stabilization has not progressed to the point that road authorities can implement wide-scale programs with confidence. This report presents the proceedings from the first road dust management conference where issues, road dust best management practices, knowledge  gaps, research  needs, barriers  to implementation,  and identification  of future needs were discussed.   Given the volume of road dust that  is generated  from the unpaved  road  network, a cooperative and sustainable mitigation plan is needed. These proceedings serve to bring together stakeholders involved in, or affected by the road dust issue.


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute  a standard,  specification , or regulation. The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document. The opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Federal Highway Administration,  Montana  State University,  or the  conference sponsors.

Quality Assurance Statement

The FHWA provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient’s Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Road Dust Management and Future Needs 2008 Conference Proceedings

5. Report Date

September 2011

6.  Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

Laura Fay, M.Sc. Environmental Sciences Research Scientist Angela Kociolek, M.Sc. Biological Sciences Research Scientist

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Western Transportation Institute

P.O. Box 174250 Bozeman, MT 59717-4250

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Federal Highway Administration

Central Federal Lands Highway Division 12300 W. Dakota Avenue, Suite 210

Lakewood, CO 80228

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Conference Proceedings November 2008

14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

COTR: Roger Surdahl – FHWA CFLHD. For a list of the planning committee members and other conference sponsors please see the Acknowledgements page. This project was funded under the FHWA Federal Lands Highway Coordinated Technology Implementation Program (CTIP).

16. Abstract

The first Road Dust Management and Future Needs Conference in 2008 brought together practitioners, scientists and vendors to review the state of the practice and to determine the future direction of dust suppression and stabilization. The four themes explored at the conference were dust suppression, soil stabilization, environmental impacts of dust suppressants used to control dust, and planning and design for the future. Panel discussions and a group vote were used to identify four priorities for formalizing industry standards in road dust management. A major outcome of the conference was the decision to form an association. These proceedings serve to summarize conference discussions as well as to invite interested parties into the planning for a sustainable future in road dust management.

17. Key Words


18. Distribution Statement

No restriction. This document is available to the public from the sponsoring agency at the website http://www.cflhd.gov.

19. Security Classif. (of this report)


20. Security Classif. (of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price


This final report serves as the conference proceedings for the Road Dust Management and Future Needs Conference that took place November 13–14, 2008, in San Antonio, Texas. The authors would like to thank the conference co-chairs Roger Surdahl of Federal Highway Administration’s Central Federal Lands Highway Division and Steve Albert of the Western Transportation Institute–Montana State University, Traci Ulberg of Meetings Northwest LLC, and the session moderators and presenters. We acknowledge the planning committee members (shown alphabetically) for volunteering their time:

Brian Allen, Federal Highway Administration—Federal Lands Highway

Amit Armstrong, Federal Highway Administration—Western Federal Lands Highway Division

Gary Brown, Federal Highway Administration—Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division

Matt Duran, EnviroTech Services, Inc.

Laura Fay, Western Transportation Institute–Montana State University Susan Finger, U.S. Geological Survey

Sean Furniss, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tony Giancola, National Association of County Engineers David James, University of Nevada–Las Vegas

David Jones, University of California–Davis

Rodney Langston, Clark County (Nevada) Department of Air Quality and Environment Management

Ed Little, U.S. Geological Survey

Mark Nahra, Delaware County (Iowa) Engineer

Ken Skorseth, South Dakota State University, South Dakota Local Transportation Assistance Program

Bob Vitale, Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc.

Dale Wegner, Coconino County (Arizona) Public Works

Dan Williams, Western Transportation Institute–Montana State University

Ron Wright, Idaho Transportation Department, Pacific Northwest Snowfighters Alan Yamada, U.S. Forest Service.

Comments from members of this planning committee on this final report helped ensure its accuracy and readability.

We thank Kate Heidkamp, Neil Hetherington, and Frank Miller of the Western Transportation Institute, and Brian Church for volunteering his time to help at the conference.

We would also like to acknowledge the conference sponsors: Federal Highway Administration Federal Lands Highway, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Geological Survey, Western Transportation Institute– Montana State University, North American Salt Company, and EnviroTech Services, Inc.


Additive                      A chemical or material applied atop or mixed into a road surface to minimize particulate loss (i.e., dust). Also, something that is added, as one substance to another, to alter or improve the general quality or to counteract undesirable properties; in this case something added to the road surface to suppress dust or stabilize the soil.

Dust Suppressant         A chemical additive applied to an unsealed road surface to temporarily reduce the level of particulate matter entrained from the surface by passing vehicles or wind, but does not influence strength or plasticity characteristics of the natural material. Also, any substance that is applied onto, or into a surface, to prevent or reduce the dispersion of dust into the air.

Soil Stabilizer              A chemical or material additive mixed into an unsealed road surface to permanently increase or improve density, compaction, shear strength, and/or changes plasticity characteristics. Also, a chemical or mechanical treatment designed to increase or maintain the stability of a mass of soil or to otherwise improve its engineering properties.

Palliative:                    Something that mitigates or alleviates a condition, in this case dust. PM10                                                Air particulate matter less then 10 microns in size.

ADT                            Average Daily Traffic

ASTM                         American Society for Testing and Materials

BLM                           Bureau of Land Management

BMP                            Best Management Practice

CFLHD                       Central Federal Lands Highway Division

CSIR                           Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

CTIP                           Coordinated Technology Implementation Program

DOD                           Department of Defense

DOT                            Department of Transportation

EPA                            Environmental Protection Agency

FHWA                        Federal Highway Administration

ISO                             International Organization for Standardization

LTAP                          Local Technical Assistance Program

LVR                            Low Volume Roads (TRB committee)

MSDS                         Material Safety Data Sheet

PNS                             Pacific Northwest Snowfighters

RITA                           Research and Innovative Technology Administration

TRB                            Transportation Research Board

USDA                         U.S. Department of Agriculture

USFS                          U.S. Forest Service

USGS                          U.S. Geological Survey

UTC                            University Transportation Centers


The first Road Dust Management and Future Needs Conference was held in San Antonio, Texas, November 13–14, 2008. The purpose of the conference was to bring together practitioners, scientists and vendors to provide an overview of the state of the practice and to determine the future direction of dust suppression and stabilization. This was accomplished through speakers, panels and open discussions with conference attendees, and a vote on priorities. The four themes explored at the conference were dust suppression, soil stabilization, environmental impacts of dust suppressants used to control dust, and planning and design for the future. Panel discussions and a group vote were used to identify four priorities for future growth in dust control. These were then developed into the following problem statements.

Guidelines and Best Management Practices

Develop a synthesis document on the current status and state of the practice of guidelines and best management practices for soil and soil stabilization.

Performance Measures

Develop an association that will define limits for performance measures, minimum performance standards, and balance these limits with a reporting-based system that allows for complaints to be made by product users and for resolution of these complaints. The limits should provide the end user with enough information for make informed decisions on products.

Specifications and Protocols

Develop a science-based standard for testing and auditing products, including a list of acceptable test methods, specifications for products and projects, and an end user decision making tool, with testing occurring at regional testing facilities.

Education, Clearinghouse, Outreach, and Training

Develop a clearinghouse of information that is owned by the association. Education, training, and outreach can be developed once the clearinghouse is in place.

In addition to developing the four priorities, conference attendees said an association should be assembled to continue the forward progress of the conference. Conference attendees volunteered to be project champions and potential funding sources.

Desired outcomes of this conference were to assemble an association, to make progress on at least one of the four identified priorities, and to hold a follow-up conference in one to two years.

Additional information including the conference white paper, speaker presentations, speaker papers, and posters can be found at the website: www.roaddustinstitute.org.


The Road Dust Management and Future Needs Conference convened for the first time in the fall of 2008 in San Antonio, Texas, thanks to the hard work of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Lands Highway, the Western Transportation Institute–Montana State University, Meetings Northwest LLC, and those on the planning committee. The conference was attended by 93 people representing 27 states as shown in Figure 1 and three countries—the United States, Canada and South Africa. The goal of the conference was to bring together practitioners, scientists, and vendors to provide an overview of the state of the practice and to determine the future direction of dust suppression and stabilization. Conference attendees represented federal and state departments of transportation (DOTs), city and county municipalities, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Local and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs (L/TTAP), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), seven universities, and about 20 private companies.

Picture Placeholder

Figure 1  Map.  United States locations of the conference attendees are highlighted ingray.

The conference began with a series of lecture-style talks on dust suppression, soil stabilization, environmental impacts of dust suppressants used to control dust, and planning and design for the future. Following these talks, four panel-led discussions were used to generate ideas for the future directions of the topics discussed in the panels. The ideas generated from each panel-led discussion were presented to the conference audience and the attendees voted on the top four ideas to pursue. Four breakout sessions were used to develop these ideas into tangible problem statements, as shown in Figure 2.

Picture Placeholder

Figure 2.  Flowchart.  Conference outcome methodology.

The success of the conference was demonstrated by the number of attendees, the diverse fields they represented, enthusiasm for getting the four problems statements funded, and discussion of a follow-up conference in one to two years.

The following Chapter 2 provides background on the topic of dust suppression and stabilization. Chapter 3 provides an overview of what was covered in the keynote and speaker sessions.

Chapter 4 presents the ideas generated in each panel-led discussion from the four sessions. Chapter 5 presents the four ideas chosen for development into problem statements, a summary of the problem statements, challenges discussed at the conference, and potential project champions. The conclusions of the conference are then presented in Chapter 6, followed by the References. Appendix A lists the conference attendees, and Appendix B shows the original conference agenda.


“Road dust control and unsealed road stabilization are significant road management issues. Although considerable experimentation on a variety of chemical additives has been carried out in the last 70 years, very little wide-scale implementation has taken place. There are many reasons for this, including the absence of a national authority, a fragmented industry, and a lack of funding for programs among unsealed-road authorities and owners.

This conference was planned to bring practitioners together to discuss road dust and adjacent area management issues, road dust best management practices, knowledge gaps, research needs, barriers to implementation, and identification of future needs. Participants attempted to explain why chemical dust control and unsealed-road stabilization had not progressed to the point that road authorities can implement wider-scale programs with confidence. Remedies were sought to initiate the development of nationwide administrative structures, information resources, and consistent experimental and maintenance protocols that, in a manner similar to those already in place for paved/sealed roads, would facilitate the adoption of standards and practices that will improve performance and reduce both maintenance costs and environmental impacts of unsealed roads. The conference was not intended to be a platform for reporting on another round of experiments, but rather a forum for identifying and overcoming the barriers to wider implementation of the results and recommendations of the past 100 years of research.”

The material above originally appeared in the conference white paper titled Road Dust Management: State of the Practice by David Jones of the University of California–Davis, David James of the University of Nevada–Las Vegas, and Robert (Bob) Vitale of Midwest Industrial Supply of Canton, Ohio. The complete white paper can be found at http://www.wti.montana.edu/TechnologyTransfer/DustControl.html.

The main themes of the white paper were:

  • Unsealed road networks
  • Volume of dust generated
  • Consequences of road dust
  • Dust control using chemicals, compaction aids, and stabilizers
  • Environmental considerations
  • An overview of dust control research
  • Certification of dust control additives
  • The way forward


This section provides an overview of the speaker session topics and the talking points of the speakers. Speaker presentations, speaker papers, and presented posters can be found at http://www.wti.montana.edu/TechnologyTransfer/DustControl.html, and the conference agenda can be found in Appendix B.



The keynote speakers provided background on dust suppression and stabilization, and offered insight from four perspectives: (1) regional to national scale, (2) research, (3) vendor/construction, and (4) maintenance.

David Jones of the University of California–Davis gave a background talk on the main themes of the white paper that was prepared for the conference as mentioned in section three.

Michael Long of the Oregon DOT and TRB LVR Committee spoke about road dust management from a national and international perspective. He provided a general overview of what is considered dust and why it is a problem, the global scale of the dust problem, and dust issues at the road and project level. He then provided some examples of local and international dust problems.

David James of the University of Nevada–Las Vegas spoke about research needs in the fields of dust suppression and stabilization. Dr. James provided an overview of the current literature, discussed the state of the practice, outlined efforts that have been made to define all the important parameters that need to be measured, and provided ideas on how to move forward.

Ron Wright of the Idaho Transportation Department and Pacific Northwest Snowfighters (PNS) spoke about the development of a chemical selection process that eventually became a qualified product list for PNS in the field of winter maintenance. He provided the specifications they decided upon, lessons learned, and discussed a pathway forward.

Ken Skorseth of South Dakota State University and SDLTAP provided a maintenance perspective and discussed managing the frequency of gravel road blade maintenance, maintaining shape of the road and shoulder, and the need to specify good surface gravel/aggregate. He went on to discuss the general lack of specifications, and of the specifications that exist the problems associated with them, as well as the difference in road performance between surface and base gravel use.


David James of the University of Nevada–Las Vegas moderated this session on research, monitoring and evaluation of road dust suppressants. This session highlighted the current methods, available products, and aggregates used in dust suppression. What works and what does not work, as well as road base preparation were discussed. New technologies and ecological impacts from a research-based perspective were presented.

Chatten Cowherd of the Midwest Research Institute discussed how to quantify dust emissions from unpaved roads and how to measure/control performance monitoring of dust control products. He provided a formula to estimate a national average emission rate in mass per time. Cowherd addressed the importance of field studies in determining performance and also shared techniques using mobile sampling devices.

Tom Sanders of Colorado State University presented results from a study that found maintenance costs for treated roads was 50 percent less than similar costs for untreated roads.  Much research is still needed to determine optimal application methods. However, he has found that treating roads with dust suppressants is a win-win situation for those concerned about air quality and maintenance costs.

Dennis Fitz of University of California–Riverside’s Center for Engineering Research discussed a mobile method to determine emission rates and evaluate the overall effectiveness of dust suppressants.  His work pertained to unpaved roads in public as well as industry settings.

John Bosch of the EPA’s Air Program discussed his role in the regulation of fugitive dust. He promoted the formation of a standardized protocol to control dust and presented the myriad motivations of the various types of stakeholders involved in the dust issue. Ultimately, however, due to other pressing environmental concerns, road dust is not a major focus for the EPA. Therefore, Bosch recommended that the association that is to be formed from this conference take the lead if national attention is to be brought to mitigating the road dust problem (see Appendix C – EPA Letter of Support).


Roger Surdahl of the Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD) moderated this session on road stabilization and maintenance. This session highlighted the current methods, available products, and aggregates used in soil stabilization. What works and what does not work were discussed, as well as road base preparation. New technologies were also presented.

Steve Bytnar of Envirotech provided the perspective of the vendor when dealing with different clients in different climates and explored many of the complexities of deciding how to treat individual road projects. He made a distinction between results from dust suppressants versus road stabilization and emphasized the overriding importance of knowing the goal of each road project. Steve Bytnar was a replacement speaker in the session due to Stan Vitton’s delayed arrival.

Heine Junge of South Dakota shared his success story of unpaved road stabilization with the Pennington County Highway Department. He provided many examples of what products and methods work in various road situations and provided insight on how to work with county commissioners and private citizens.

Melvin Main of Midwest Industrial Supply shared information about geo-technology and its use in road stabilization. He provided a case study from the city of Scottsdale, Arizona. Main discussed what they learned about the predictability, strength, and durability of stabilizers from field test installations and evaluations.

Stan Vitton of Michigan Technological University provided a case study on fugitive dust control from mine haul roads in Michigan. Traditional measures for stabilization during cold weather were unsuccessful because the piles are so dynamic and grow by several feet per year. Experimental testing of various stabilizers found that light paper sludge application is a very effective method for controlling cold weather dusting from sublimation. For road applications, Finland compacts paper sludge for use on shoulders and in the pavement structure itself, making geosynthetics and geomembranes obsolete in that country.


Susan Finger of the U.S. Geological Survey moderated and spoke in this session on the environmental impacts of dust suppressants used to control dust. This session covered dust impacts to air quality, human health, vegetation, soil, wildlife, water quality, and dust suppressant chemistry. Susan Finger shared how the USGS’s experience with the assessment of environmental contaminants from other fields could aid in the assessment of dust suppression and stabilization chemicals. She presented information on the Columbia Environmental Research Center where lab and field testing can be conducted.

Fred Hall of Environmental Quality Management, Inc., presented information for additional authors Bill Kemner of Environmental Quality Management and Karen Irwin of the EPA Region 9. He provided information on a lab study that looked at a variety of soil types and dust suppressants. He addressed heavy metal concentrations, water leaching studies, the effectiveness of dust suppressants in disturbed and undisturbed environments, a variety of water quality parameters, and aquatic toxicity data.

Rodney Langston of Clark County, Nevada, Air Quality and Environmental Management presented information on what to do if you have PM10 issues. His talk covered how and why PM10 issues are usually reported. He discussed elements of state implementation plans and control measures and spoke specifically about the Clark County program that involves a working group assigned to develop recommendations and guidelines and conduct research. He presented information on the current unmet needs in this field and different roles of federal, state, and local agencies.


Dave Jones of the University of California Pavement Research Center and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa was the moderator for the speaker panel on planning and design for the future. This session covered planning projects from conception to completion as well as dust control based on average daily traffic (ADT). Cost analysis of dust control versus soil stabilization was also given.

Pete Bolander provided an overview of USFS perspectives on dust control. The USFS manages 375,000 miles of road (paved and unpaved). The agency has no formal dust abatement management policy but does have a number of guidelines, specifications, toolkits and unpublished studies available. The challenge is to transfer this knowledge to the USFS’s 400 district road managers and beyond. A centralized location in the form of a website would drastically improve communication for everyone concerned about road dust issues. In order to improve the state of the practice of dust abatement, everyone from users to manufactures to researchers ought to share and publish failures as well as successes.

Ken Skorseth provided insight into the county engineer’s perspective. The state of dust control operations varies widely across the country depending on the agency, substrate, political pressure, product compatibility and other variables. There are many examples of surface treatment failures, the memories of which linger and hinder user and public acceptance of products and projects. However, Skorseth is hopeful that more and more surface treatment successes with documented outstanding performance will drive others to engage in the practice of road dust mitigation.

John Rushing gave the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ perspective on the Department of Defense (DOD) applications of road dust suppressants, focused on air and ground soldier safety. The DOD has published criteria for road dust management but much of the guidance therein is outdated or environmentally unacceptable. Ongoing military research of products in various scenarios serves to keep guidance and protocols current. Key elements in the process are user training and evaluation to ensure effectiveness and instill confidence in dust suppression products.

Steve Bytnar provided an additive industry perspective. The main barrier to implementation of dust additives is the work it takes to fully understand customers’ needs and to agree on expectations. It is necessary to educate customers on the fundamentals of road preparation and compaction, on aggregates, soil types, pH levels and the types of products that can be expected to work in each situation. No standard testing protocols exist so companies are currently forced to devise their own. The industry as a whole will benefit from regionalized performance testing and standardization.

David Jones completed the session with an academic/researcher perspective. The presentation covered the status quo on research on road dust management, an overview of the results of a survey of road industry practitioners’ thoughts on road dust management, the need for and use of research protocols, and what constituted appropriate documentation for non traditional road additives.  The use of fit-for-purpose certification procedures was also discussed.


The audience had a choice of four concurrent sessions during which they could discuss the most pressing needs. Each session culminated in a vote of the top three priorities within each session topic.


David James of the University of Nevada–Las Vegas moderated this session. He posed a series of questions to panel members and the audience, which are presented below along with a summary of each discussion.

1. What really is the problem?

Dust causes safety problems, in particular, for the military, including loss of visibility and loss of material leading to economic problems. Specifically, (1) tight budgets prevent agencies, users, etc., from testing all products; (2) different approaches to testing result in incomparable data sets; and (3) lack of information available on the impacts of chemical dust suppressants and stabilizers on the environment when applied as recommended.

Customers, private and public, do not know criteria by which to judge the products. A lack of minimum standards and a need for an independent agency to certify the products was also mentioned. In South Africa there is a public testing agency. A vendor added that vendors should provide material information data sheets (MSDS) for customers to use as a reference, and that this should be enough information to evaluate different products against one another.

An audience member commented that the town of Queen Creek, Arizona, was under non- attainment for PM10 and that it must implement control measures, but it is not sure what options are available. There is a need for a menu of options for controls. Additionally, a list of what products work, where, and under what parameters (e.g., weather conditions, soil types, specific environments) would be beneficial.

2. Is there a need for testing of dust suppression and stabilization products?

An audience member said that there are a variety of purposes for measurements and protocols, such as temporary versus permanent sealing of roadways. Any developed solution would need to be simple for customers to utilize, for example, an if–then table.

It was also remarked that manufacturers could establish minimum specifications, as has been done in other industries.  An audience member remarked that vendors do not have common testing protocols. This means that agencies cannot use a sole source to purchase the product they want to use because it is difficult to compare results/specifications between vendors. A vendor from the audience suggested the need for developing test methods that all interested parties could accept and training people how to use products appropriately. He then gave the example of standard smokestack test methods, and the need to do method verification.  Unfortunately, there is no parallel in a non-smokestack environment. The problem is that fugitive dust sources are more variable than smokestacks and that testing in the field is very embryonic. An audience member reiterated the need for test protocols and an independent testing agency, and to approach the issue with wider standards.

3. Where do we start?

Performance criteria should be set by the user. We can look at larger purchasers, such as in the military, as an example, and examine their performance criteria. An audience member suggested that test protocols and methods should be universal to alleviate confusion.  One example provided was the EPA, which establishes a workgroup with all stakeholders at the table to develop test methods.

A vendor reminded everyone that there are various categories of dust suppression products that work differently under different conditions. What may work best in some soils will not work as well in other soils. Therefore, test methods should accommodate this variability. An audience member referred back to the if–then table to help with this variability between products.

An audience member reminded everyone of environmental safety issues, and another suggested the need for an index for consumers. There is also a need for guidance for private owners that specifies exposure risk for those doing small applications, such as on driveways. Both public and private roads need to be controlled, but the users are very different. Private haul roads are very important and are major emitters in some areas. Different protocols for different purposes are also needed.

4. How do we accomplish this?

One way would be to institutionalize methods through American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or International Organization for Standardization (ISO) because compliance with either of these organizations has meaning for both private and public consumers.

A vendor suggested we need to decide what problem to address and use screening methods to “bracket” performance. Vendors could then show they have met the minimum criteria with screening methods before going to full-scale performance testing. An audience member then asked who would do performance tests. The vendor responded that contract labs could conduct the testing once they have shown they are able to perform the tests.

An audience member stated that local entities lack resources to do testing. However, there are models for working around this for example, the work done by the Western Regional Air Partnership, an effort administered jointly by the Western Governors’ Association and the National Tribal Environmental Council, where review is done by associated responsible state agencies, but this can take a year to get done. An audience member brought up that homeowner protocols might be different from agency protocols.

An audience member said that most DOTs do have qualified products. Some products are more experimental, such as line paint, while others are more mature, like asphalt cement, in testing.

Dust control products are likely to be considered experimental at this point, so we must take baby steps.

Below is a summary of the ideas generated from this session to present to the larger conference audience.  The ideas in italics were then condensed to three ideas, as seen in the next section.

1.      Development of reliable, repeatable and appropriate-to-use protocols focused on unpaved roads for now, and then look for broader applications later such as vacant lots, construction areas, etc.

2.      The protocols should measure environmental safety and impacts, occupational safety, and the effectiveness or performance of products against a minimum standard for the purpose of determining an expected lifetime.

3.      Attributes that should be defined and posted include the service life and manufacturer’s warranty, geology, temperature, precipitation, cure time, depth of penetration of the product, solubility of the product for clean-up purposes, MSDS, sufficient information to assess risks, a defined shelf life, corrosivity, application methods, and unit weight.

4.   Performance should be tied to application practices.

5.  A manual of essential practices that is available on the web and contains information about application methods and necessary maintenance linked to performance, and should include case studies or examples of good practice.


Roger Surdahl of CFLHD moderated the session. The session consisted of a discussion of identifying problems with the current state of road soil stabilization practice. At the end, some ideas were generated on how to start solving those problems.

Roger Surdahl posed the following questions (a summary of the group discussion is provided after each):

1. How many more research studies do we need to do in road stabilization?

It may not be a question of needing more research, per se, but needing guidelines on how to incorporate cost-effective stabilizing materials.  Still, there will always be a need for research.

2. What drives the use of the products—is it cost and availability or is it performance?

It depends on the perspective. For some, such as researchers, performance is the key for whether products are used. Another key component in selection of products is the soil type, specifically the amount of clay. For others, such as suppliers or counties, cost is most important. While performance ought to drive use, in reality it comes down to cost.

3. Is there any guidance already available that can be used more widely?

Current manuals may suffice for guidance on maintaining gravel roads but more guidance is needed on applying products. The USFS is creating a guidance document by compiling information on how to choose products for different scenarios. The Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab published an unsurfaced road condition rating index, which is probably the best example of a guide to gravel road management that is available.

4. What is a reasonable cost per mile for road stabilization?

It is generally agreed that road stabilization is more cost-effective than dust control. Some believe stabilization costs can be recouped within a year, however it may take several years to treat 100 percent of a program. Two cost estimates for stabilization were 1) 10 to 22 cents/square foot, and 2) $3,500/mile/year (compared to an asphalt road, which costs $8,000/mile/year). For sandy bases, a biennial maintenance schedule is needed, whereas for clayey soils, the maintenance schedule becomes less expensive over time. The cost to mobilize equipment can be more than the cost of the product itself. In some places, homeowners must pay for road stabilization or dust control directly. In order to convince decision makers that stabilization is worth the cost, unbiased documentation is needed, such as the paper by Tom Sanders (Sanders and Addo 2000). The question was raised, “What are the costs if unpaved roads are not treated?”

5. What is the single most important problem that needs to be solved in soil stabilization? (Answers are generally listed in order presented; these problems were then voted upon with the resulting top three in italics):

  • Need to improve the long-term durability/life expectancy of product in terms of ultraviolet degradation, freeze–thaw cycling, etc.
  • Political influence; need to learn how to convince decision makers that treatment will pay off in the long run.
  • Need to include dust in long-term pavement management systems; need for more quantifiable and standardized documentation; need for better specifications and best management and construction practices
  • Environmental and compliance issues; potential violation of Clean Air Act? Other environmental issues such as weed invasions via road corridors, etc.
  • Lack of funding
  • Need for education for all involved, i.e., customer, politicians, practitioners, etc.
  • The cost of the product
  • Need for consistent process

While environmental and compliance issues ranked relatively high in the voting, environmental issues were discussed in another session and, therefore, was not included in the final vote results from this group.

6. How are we going to address these top three problems?

There are some examples to follow, such as the Federal Highway Administration’s national pooled fund study or perhaps a more regional approach. Ultimately, there is a need to form an organization that can disseminate information via a centralized website, workshops, etc. The key is to keep it simple so that all levels of practitioners may understand how to put the information into practice.  However, in order to educate, first you need to have something to teach.


Susan Finger provided an overview talk of what was covered the previous day by the session speakers and information from any relevant conversations she had outside of the session.

Panelists were available to address specific topics and provide direction for the session. The audience provided input on a variety of needs and challenges, resulting in the following list of suggestions for the future direction for this topic. The audience then voted on their top three ideas to present to the whole conference audience (in italics). Ideas five through eight listed below were combined into one idea that was then presented to conference audience.

1.   Develop an inter-agency working group—a national shell to serve regional groups

2.      Develop a database and/or a management tool3.      Develop/standardize test protocols based on EPA environmental and performance protocols and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mandates

4.   Develop a current list of BMPs

5.      Develop a road safety audit program applied to dust control

6.      Education/Training

7.      Guidance document on dust control—Low volume road committee at TRB as a potential champion

8.      Collect manuals, design and guidance documents to find an appropriate model

9.   Develop a document/template to assess a road’s impacts on the adjacent environment

Organizations that most likely have information to help move these ideas forward include: USFS, EPA, BLM, and Federal Highways. The main focus was intended to be on protocols and impacts to water and terrestrial environments, where air quality could fall under the purview of performance of dust suppressants and stabilizers.


Dave Jones guided the audience discussion and panelists were available to address specific topics. The audience provided input on a variety of needs and challenges, resulting in a top-ten list of barriers.  The audience then voted on their top three barriers (in italics):

  1. Client expectations/knowledge
  2. Client perceptions
  3. Category specifications
  4. New product acceptance
  5. Politics/money/future costs
  6. Central information location
  7. Research/testing protocols
  8. Reinventing the wheel
  9. Product documentation and information
  10. Education and training

The top three priorities were then refocused for presentation to the conference audience.

  1. Guidelines and specifications (performance based/cost benefit)
  2. Education, training and technology transfer
  3. Additive category specifications (tied with the following)
  4. An “owner” for unsealed road specifications


Following the break-out sessions, the attendees met and each break-out session moderator presented his or her group’s top three priorities. The conference audience then voted on the top four ideas presented and developed these into problem statements, all of which are presented in this section.  This section also discusses potential challenges and project champions.


Dust suppression

  1. Develop reliable, repeatable, and appropriate use of protocols
  2. Define what the protocols should measure and specify what attributes that should be defined and posted
  3. Develop a manual of essential practices

Soil Stabilization

  1. Long-term durability/life expectancy of the product
  2. Education for all involved
  3. Long-term pavement management system, specifications, and best management and construction practices

Environmental impacts of dust suppressants

  1. Develop a database and/or a management tool
  2. Develop/standardize test protocols based on EPA environmental and performance protocols and BLM mandates
  3. Education, training, guidance document, state of the practice, clearinghouse

Planning and design for the future

  1. Guidelines and specifications (performance based/cost benefit)
  2. Education, training and technology transfer
  3. Additive category specifications (tied with the following)
  4. An “owner” for unsealed road specifications

Each audience member was given the opportunity to vote on his or her top four priorities from the list above, some of which were combined due to their similar nature. The following four priorities received the most votes:

  1. Guidelines and Best Management Practices
  2. Performance Measures
  3. Specifications and Protocols
  4. Education, Clearinghouse, Outreach, and Training

There was a final concurrent break-out session that focused on the four identified priorities. Moderators facilitated the group in writing brief problem statements for each.

There was also overwhelming support to develop an association. Most conference attendees said that there should be an association even though it was ranked fifth, after the four identified priorities listed above. A steering committee representing various stakeholders will be formed to implement the proposed association and plan the next conference.


The following are brief summaries and preliminary problem statements for each of the top four voted priorities.

Guidelines and Best Management Practices

There is a need to develop a synthesis document on guidelines and best management practices for dust control and soil stabilization. Such a document would allow for future comparison between products and to mark progress over time. The document would be submitted to the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the Coordinated Technology Implementation Program (CTIP) or University Transportation Centers for funding.

Performance Measures

“All dust all the time is not acceptable but no dust all the time is unattainable.” Finding a necessary balance ought to be the responsibility of the association that will be formed as a result of this conference.  The Better Business Bureau model may be the best approach for this complex situation where many different products exist, many of which have no guarantees or even product labels. Develop a reporting-based form that would allow for complaint resolution, and give the end user some information to make informed decisions. Ultimately, the risk of defining performance measures should be shared by the three-legged stool of the government, the end users, and the manufacturers and suppliers.

Specifications and Protocols

The industry needs a science-based standard for testing and auditing products so that MSDSs have meaning and environmental impacts are kept to a minimum. An array of deliverables are needed in order to define industry standards, such as “protocols for protocols,” a list of acceptable test methods, specifications for products and for projects, and an end user decision- making tool. To remove bias and to increase accuracy, regional test facilities that represent different climates and soils may be the best option to meet the diversity of needs across the continent.

Education, Clearinghouse, Outreach, and Training

Particulates from fugitive road dust threaten air quality. Products and technology exist to minimize road dust and their use can reduce maintenance costs. Before we can educate, train or reach out to all stakeholders involved, however, we must first assemble the available information. Development of a clearinghouse is the first step in accumulating and disseminating this information. The clearinghouse should be “owned” by the association that will be formed as a result of this conference. Two types of training/outreach formats are needed, one focusing on awareness and promotion (e.g., the “sales pitch” for decision makers) and the other for a more technical audience (e.g., how to build unpaved roads, guidelines, specifications, protocols, best management practices, compendium of studies, etc.).


The following is a list of potential short- and long-term challenges that were discussed at the conference.


  • Developing an association—who, what, when, and where
  • Location of the clearinghouse (EPA volunteered its website)
  • Funding to accomplish the top four priorities


  • Maintaining continued open dialog and support from practitioners, vendors, and scientists
  • Locating funding for the association and conferences

Conference participants were asked to help mediate the short- and long-term challenges listed above by volunteering to join the association, act as project champions, and/or provide funding.


Following the presentation of the problem statement ideas, conference attendees were asked to volunteer if they were interested in helping to move these ideas forward. Provided below, in no particular order, is a list of interested individuals and their affiliations.

John Bosch, Environmental Protection Agency

Steve Albert, Western Transportation Institute–Montana State University Roger Surdahl, Central Federal Lands Highway Division

Tom Sanders, Colorado State University Chatten Cowherd, Midwest Research Institute Ron Wright, Pacific Northwest Snowfighters Joseph Althouse, The Dow Chemical Company Gary Kindrick, Maverick Venture Partners David Jones, University of California–Davis Bob Vitale, Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc.

Moh Lali, Alberta Transportation

John Fendt, Great Basin Solutions, L.L.C. John Cary, Envirotex

Tony Accordino, Hill Brothers Chemical Company Rhino Rohrs, CBR Plus LLC.

Jake Rader, Soilworks, LLC.

David Barnes, University of Alaska–Fairbanks

Billy Connor, Alaska University Transportation Center Swayne Walther, EnviRoad

Neville Mercado, Greenmarket Solutions Matt Duran, Envirotech Services, Inc.


The first Road Dust Management and Future Needs Conference held in San Antonio, Texas, in November 2008 brought together practitioners, scientists and vendors from all levels of public and private agencies. It provided an overview of the state-of-the-practice and set a path for the future direction of dust suppression and soil stabilization. The conference was deemed a success by the hosts and participants alike. Speakers, panels, and audience discussions culminated in a vote on priorities.

The four identified priorities discussed previously in Chapter 5 are listed below.

  1. Guidelines and Best Management Practices
  2. Performance Measures
  3. Specifications and Protocols
  4. Education, Clearinghouse, Outreach, and Training

Each priority was developed into a problem statement. Potential funding sources and project champions were suggested at the conference.


Desired outcomes of this conference were to hold a follow-up conference in one to two years and, before that time, to make progress on at least one of the four identified priorities.

A steering committee will be formed to lead and deliver the next phases of the work.

The steering committee will work to form an association for interested groups in the road dust community.


Sanders, T.G. and J.Q. Addo. “Experimental Road Dust Measurement Device.” Journal of Transportation Engineering, ASCE. 2000.









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