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Dust Control: Everything You Should Know

Dust Control: Everything You Should Know

Justin Rollin

Rapid industrialization has increased the demand for energy and products, leading to the establishment of coal and thermal power plants, deforestation, as well as increased agriculture and construction, which necessitates immense dust emissions.

Dust control systems remain a standard requirement in many industries to protect well-being, ensure safety, and safeguard the environment. Let’s take a look at how to control dust and why relevant businesses should endeavor to implement effective dust management strategies.

What Is Dust Control? 

Dust control refers to the implementation of a system designed to eliminate, reduce, and control dust emissions. This typically involves the application of liquid to restrict the dissemination of fine particles that are airborne and cause erosion.

“Watering” the dust, using strategically placed atomizing nozzles to spray a fine mist of water and surface-active agents to capture airborne dust particles and bring them to the ground, is a common and necessary practice for many industries.

Methods of Dust Control 

Traditionally, dust management has relied on wetting surfaces with water. However, this method is somewhat ineffective during hotter months or in dry, arid regions, as the water quickly evaporates and the dust drifts back into the air.

As such, the three basic types of dust control solutions are dust collection, wet dust suppression, and airborne dust capture. Dust-collection systems use ventilation procedures to capture dust-filled air streams and carry them away through ducts to a collector. Wet-suppression techniques spray liquid on dust to prevent movement, and airborne-capture systems are similar to wet-suppression, except they add chemicals to agglomerate finer particles.

The USDA Forest Services outlines how to control dust by classifying dust control solutions into seven categories according to ingredients:

  • Water: Water
  • Water absorbing products: Calcium chloride brine and flakes, magnesium chloride brine, and sodium chloride.
  • Petroleum-based products: Asphalt emulsions, cutback asphalt (liquid asphalt), dust oils, and modified asphalt emulsions.
  • Organic non-petroleum products: Lignin-based polymers, resins, tall oil emulsions, molasses, animal fats, and vegetable oils.
  • Electrochemical products: Enzymes, ionic products, and sulfonated oils.
  • Synthetic polymer products: Polyvinyl acetate and vinyl acrylic.
  • Clay additives: Bentonite and montmorillonite.

All these dust control agents and techniques curb and help control dust. Their application is primarily dependent on the industry.

Benefits of Dust Control

Dust control on gravel roads

Better Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies air-borne dust as an occupational health hazard and has published papers on effective dust management, while respected academic publication The Conversation has drawn correlations between death and illness from dust inhalation.

Dust can contain soil, ash, soot, salts, pollen, spores, and other harmful materials. Construction sites and agricultural dust may have pesticides, heavy metals, asbestos, bacteria, fungi, and other contaminants. These particles are minute and easily inhaled. Even short-term exposure can result in respiratory problems and allergic reactions.

Effective dust control products prevent fine particles from becoming airborne and causing health issues associated with asthma, hay fever, and more severe respiratory side effects. To reduce health hazards, especially in large-scale mining and construction operations, some rules and regulations have been established to safeguard health against “fugitive” dust.

Better Roads

Untreated dust creates visibility issues on gravel roads. Poor dust management increases road deterioration, while loose gravel can lead to several issues: impairing driver vision and thus compromising safety, increasing maintenance demands, damaging vehicles, and negatively affecting surrounding air quality.

Additionally, airborne dust can settle on crops, stunting their growth. The adverse effects don’t stop there; it can also enter streams, increasing sediment that harms aquatic animals and plants. Essentially, using the correct dust suppressant makes roads and the environment safer.

Calcium chloride is a long-lasting dust suppressant that attracts moisture from the air and binds particles together to create a safe and more comfortable road surface to travel on. It also prevents the formation of ruts, washboards, and potholes.

Better Safety 

Dust on the street

Whether it’s a town, agriculture, or construction site road, constant vehicle traffic kicks up dust and curtails driver vision. Surface road dust can also reduce traction, which in unfortunate events may cause road accidents. There is also a considerable risk of loose gravel hitting windshields and chipping car paint. These types of hazards are extremely prevalent in rural areas.

And it’s not solely roads. Dust can get into tiny holes and obstruct machinery components. Accumulated debris can also block vent-holes, causing equipment and machines to overheat and become unstable. The presence of copious dust will shorten a machine’s lifespan, which is why regular dust control is a must.

Better Environment

Dust particles can travel long distances with far-reaching effects. Airborne dust functions similarly to the greenhouse effect. It absorbs and dispels solar radiation from the Earth’s atmosphere, reducing the amount of radiation that reaches the earth’s surface. Much like clouds, it scatters sunlight, leading to temperature decreases.

According to UCLA, “these particles can impact stability and circulation within our atmosphere, which may affect atmospheric phenomena like hurricanes.” The genuine and unavoidable consequences of climate change have made it imperative to take the measures needed to protect the environment, of which dust management is one.

Indirect dust deposits also impact water quality by making lakes and streams acidic, changing the nutrient balance in river basins and coastal waters, depleting soil nutrients, and contributing to acid rain effects. It goes without saying that reducing floating dust can combat climate change.

Better Economy

Dust management is essentially preventive maintenance. Just like servicing a car, dust control reduces healthcare, maintenance, and long-term costs associated with safety. In the context of roads, it prevents a loss of aggregates and constant repair.

In industrial settings, it ensures production remains on track and isn’t hampered by poor visibility, as well as preserving equipment and machinery. There’s no denying mining and construction industries are some of the gravest contributors to insidious pollution levels and have to take measures that promote healthier working conditions.

Dust suppression is an environmentally responsible thing to do. There is a demand for businesses to be greener, and by practicing eco-friendly processes, companies can save the planet and help the bottom line. Too much dust puts a strain on lives, economies, and the world we inhabit.

Better Quality of Life

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “miners are at risk of developing a lung disease called pneumoconiosis because of their exposure to airborne respirable dust.” This one visible example, among many, illustrates the importance and necessity of dust control.

Proper dust management is essential to the environment and people in local communities. For instance, even if a mining or construction site is remote, excessive dust in the air can travel far and negatively impact communities, vegetation, and animals near it.

It’s not just long-term effects. Over the short-term, dust clings to surfaces outside and inside residential buildings. It’s a hassle to clean, even something as simple as washing a car or hanging the laundry can become an arduous process. The well-being of locals, employees, and the environment should always be part of business operation considerations.

Who Needs Dust Control?

Dust control solutions are needed across industries. It applies to mining, construction, forestry, agriculture, and any business where on-site or off-site damage can occur if preventative measures aren’t taken.  For instance, while combustible dust is common in food and metal production, it should be suppressed; otherwise, it risks catching fire and imploding when mixed with air. 

Dust control in metal production

Recreational Amenities

Rallycross, motocross, mountain biking, horse arenas, and racetracks, golf courses, and sports tracks all require dust suppression. 

Agriculture

Dust can stunt crop growth, so it’s important to implement a robust dust control strategy on all agricultural and farm roads.

Forestry

Dust suppression on forestry roads protects vegetation and ecosystems and improves drivability.

Industry

Mines, construction sites, metallurgy, food processing plants,  and any industry that produces a significant amount of dust require dust control. In fact, the CDC has a handbook on dust control in mines and mineral processing plants. 

Municipalities, Townships, and Districts

Local roads, parking lots, bicycle lanes, roads, game reserves, or those that shoulder dunes all require dust control from local governments.

Results of Dust Control

Obviously, effective dust control reduces airborne particles and protects people’s and the environment’s well-being. You can expect fewer accidents and health complaints, greater productivity, and equipment longevity. Notably, you’ll also be complying with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act.

Switching to a more effective dust management technique and updated dust control products, either for road or industrial dust control, can reduce labor, water consumption, fuel, maintenance, and other costs. Whatever you decide, be sure to conduct research and choose an eco-friendly dust suppressant.

Some industries use dust collection systems to comply with emission standards, enhance worker safety and comfort, protect against fire and explosion, and save money. No matter what you choose, any effort towards protecting people and the environment is pretty much priceless.

Conclusion

Dust control is a vital element to running a healthy and safe business. With the right product, it needn’t be a headache. At Ninja De-Icer, we offer a range of products for dust control purposes. Rich in calcium chloride and magnesium chloride, our salt offers a high level of effectiveness when it comes to curtailing the adverse effects of dust. Contact Ninja De-Icer to learn more about how we can help your business!

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