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Methods for Dust Control
Publication no. 96-433
Revised July 2016
Publication and Contact Information
This report is available on the Department of Ecology’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/summarypages/96433.html
This document was previously published under the title Techniques for Dust Suppression.
For more information contact:
Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Washington State Department of Ecology – www.ecy.wa.gov
To request ADA accommodation including materials in a format for the visually impaired, call the Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program, 360-407-6700. Persons with impaired hearing may call Washington Relay Service at 711. Persons with speech disability may call TTY at 877-833-6341.
Why is Dust a Problem?
Dust can contain soil, ash, soot, salts, pollen and spores, and a host of other materials depending on the location and activity causing the dust.
For example, dust from construction sites, industrial areas, agricultural operations, or roadways might contain pesticides, heavy metals, asbestos, bacteria, fungi, and a variety of other contaminants. Dust particles are very small and easily inhaled. Even short-term exposure to dust can cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions.
Dust emissions also contribute to air pollution significantly. Outdoor dust occurs throughout Washington, especially in dry areas like Eastern Washington. At various times of the year, dry weather conditions and wind can cause big dust storms, but there are many other common sources of dust emissions as well.
Sources of dust emissions include:
Controlling Dust Emissions
Dust emissions can be prevented or reduced in four basic ways:
Some dust control techniques work with many sources of dust:
Other techniques are more specific:
Unpaved, Trafficked Areas
Lower speed limits. High vehicle speed increases the amount of dust stirred up from unpaved roads and lots. Lowering the speed of a vehicle from 45 miles per hour(mph) to 35 mph can reduce dust emissions by up to 22 percent.
Restrict the number or type of vehicles that can access the road, if possible. Restricting use by tracked vehicles and heavy trucks also helps prevent damage to road surface and base.
Paved, Trafficked Areas
Upgrade the Road
Other Specific Sources
Chemical Dust Suppression
Chemical dust suppressants are commercially available for use on many types of emission sources. The performance of a product depends on many factors:
Keep in mind that most of the products designed for trafficked areas are primarily intended for medium-traffic, low cost roads, that are typically surfaced with gravel. Dust suppression and periodic unpaved road maintenance are normally combined. For unpaved road applications, products applied and mixed into the road surface usually work better than if simply applied to the surface.
Evaluate available products against your own specific emission source, site, performance, and cost criteria. Review the manufacturer’s product literature, safety data sheet (SDS), and instructions before purchase and prior to use. Consider the risk to human health or the environment from hazardous characteristics of product ingredients, application practices, and the environmental characteristics of the site.
Be aware that during preparation or application, chemical dust suppressants may exhibit hazardous characteristics such as corrosivity or ignitability.
Some products may produce excessive heat when
mixed with water. Others may contain toxic or carcinogenic ingredients or contaminants. Observe all safety precautions and follow the manufacturer’s directions when handling, mixing, and applying chemical suppressants.
Any suppressant product or its ingredients may migrate from a treated site due to carelessness in application, runoff, leaching, volatility, dusting, or adhesion to vehicles. In areas where surface water or groundwater is nearby and where stream flow rates are low, adverse environmental impacts are possible.
The burden of proof for product safety lies with the chemical manufacturers, distributors and users. Ask the vendor whether their product has characteristics or meets criteria that would cause it to designate as a Washington State dangerous waste as it is applied to the ground, after drying or curing, or as a result of biochemical decay.
Washington’s Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication (Chapter 296-901, WAC) requires chemical manufacturers to obtain or develop an SDS for each hazardous chemical they produce. All employers must have an SDS at the workplace for each hazardous chemical they use.
Do not use undocumented material for dust control. All legitimate products have manufacturer product literature and an SDS that describe the product’s ingredients, characteristics, recommended use, safety practices, and limitations of use. If Ecological information (SDS Section 12) is not provided on the SDS, obtain and review this information from the manufacturer before making a purchasing decision.
Prepare a Dust Control Plan
A good dust control plan can help reduce negative effects from dust. At a minimum a dust control plan should include:
Be sure to consult with your local Air Pollution Control agency.
Cost of Dust Suppression Projects
Developing an effective and cost-efficient dust control program means accurately identifying and accounting for the true costs and savings of any new alternative, compared to your current practices. Using unpaved roads as an example, the costs can be grouped into the categories listed below:
Road Improvement Costs
Drainage improvements, geometric improvements, repairing of failed areas, excavation and removal of substandard material, and addition of surface material. (Note: These costs are not part of dust suppression program costs if they would be required anyway, without dust suppression.)
Surface Preparation Costs
Addition of select material (fines or coarse material), breaking up and loosening the road surface, watering, shaping, and compacting.
Product Supply and Application Costs
Material cost, transportation cost, application cost, and contract supervisor cost (if a project supervisor is provided by the contractor).
Traffic control, detour, inspection, crew supervision, material storage (if inventory is maintained) and liability costs.
Dust Program Savings and Benefits
Road Maintenance and Repair Savings
Less frequent regrading and less frequent need to add supplementary road materials accrue savings due to reduced loss of gravel and fines and greater durability of the road surface.
Savings from Non-road and Off-site Benefits
Savings accrued from dust control program benefits not specifically related to the road itself, such as human health, vehicles and equipment, and the environment.
Washington Regulations Related to Dust Control
The following laws apply in Washington:
These statutes require owners and operators of fugitive dust sources to prevent fugitive dust from becoming airborne and to maintain and operate sources to minimize emissions.
Chapter 70.95I RCW Used Oil Recycling
Prohibits the use of used oil as a dust suppressant. In fact, federal regulation 40 CFR Part 279, Standards for the Management of Used Oil (Subpart I) prohibits the use of used oil as a dust suppressant in all 50 states unless a state petitions EPA. If you plan to use a chemical suppressant, verify that it does not contain any used oil. Used oil is defined as: “(a) lubricating fluids that have been removed from an engine crankcase, transmission, gearbox, hydraulic device, or differential of an automobile, bus, truck, vessel, plane, heavy equipment, or machinery powered by an internal combustion engine; (b) any oil that has been refined from crude oil, used, and as a result of use, has been contaminated with physical or chemical impurities; and (c) any oil that has been refined from crude oil and, as a consequence of extended storage, spillage, or contamination, is no longer useful to the original purchaser” (RCW 70.95I.010).
Chapter 90.48 RCW, Water Pollution Control
Section .080 prohibits the discharge of any material into surface or groundwater that could cause pollution as defined in WAC 173-200-020(22). If your site is near surface or groundwater, use dust control measures that will not have any aquatic impact. If you decide to use a chemical dust suppressant, select a product with no or low aquatic toxicity.
Ecology’s Sand and Gravel General Permit for sand and gravel operations has specific requirements for use of chemical treatment products including a prohibition of the use of ligninsulfonate for dust suppression in excavated areas, including areas where topsoil has been removed.
Chapter 70.105 RCW, Hazardous Waste Management
Prohibits disposal to the ground of any dangerous (hazardous) waste. If you are planning to use a chemical dust suppressant, make sure it does not contain any dangerous waste ingredients.
Chapter 70.105D RCW Hazardous Waste Cleanup – Model Toxics Control Act This law requires the identification and cleanup of hazardous sites. Ecology can investigate reports of releases or the presence of hazardous substances. If a hazardous product is used as a dust suppressant and Ecology later receives a complaint of contamination, a site assessment may be conducted.
A cleanup may be required if a potential threat to human health or the environment is determined. The determination depends on the hazardous substance(s) present, the concentration(s), the environmental characteristics of the site including proximity to surface and groundwater, as well as the current or proposed future use of the property.
Anyone considering the use of products that contain hazardous substances should carefully weigh the risk of possible future cleanup costs or loss in property value, especially if land use is likely to change toward more unrestricted uses such as residential housing.
These laws require a water right permit for all surface water withdrawal and for any water from a well that will exceed 5,000 gallons per day (RCW 90.44.050). If you plan to use water for dust suppression at your site, be sure that you have a legal right to that water. If in doubt, check with Ecology’s Water Resources Program. Temporary permits are usually obtainable in a short time period. In some instances, water may need to be obtained from a different area and hauled in, or from an existing water right holder.
Information and Resources
Benton Clean Air Agency – Benton County
Ecology Central Regional Office – Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan counties
Ecology Eastern Regional Office – Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman counties
Northwest Clean Air Agency – Island, Skagit, Whatcom counties
Olympic Region Clean Air Agency – Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific, Thurston counties
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency – King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish counties Southwest Clean Air Agency – Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Skamania, Wahkiakum counties Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency – Spokane County
Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency – Yakima County
Dust Palliative Selection and Application Guide: http://www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/html/99771207/99771207.html
Aggregate Roads Dust Control – A Brief Synthesis of Current Practices
University of New Hampshire – Technology Transfer Center: Unpaved Roads:
EPA’s Safer Choice Standard: http://www2.epa.gov/saferchoice/safer-choice-standard Search Safer Choice Products: http://www2.epa.gov/saferchoice/products