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Top 10 Dust Suppressants and Dust Control Techniques

Top 10 Dust Suppressants and Dust Control Techniques

Justin Rollin

Dust emissions are a common problem in many places. In response to this, the ADEC, Division of Air Quality is dedicated to working with these communities to find effective and cost-efficient dust suppression methods.

This Top 10 list outlines various approaches for controlling dust. As no two communities are alike, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. By understanding the local sources of dust, different types of dust suppression products, and available resources, you can create strategies that best fit specific needs.

What Are the Best Dust Control Methods?

dust suppression solutions

  1. Chloride-Based Dust Suppressants. One of the most effective ways to reduce airborne particles on roads or other surfaces while also helping stabilize those surfaces against erosion caused by wind or water runoff. Be sure to get high-quality products from reputable sources like Ninja De-Icer to ensure the best results.
  2. Organic Products. Organic dust suppression products such as lignin sulfonate, magnesium chloride, and vegetable protein blends can be used to suppress dust and stabilize soil.
  3. Bitumen Emulsions. Bitumen, a type of asphalt, is dispersed in water and applied to the surface of the road to reduce dust. This slow-setting emulsion helps bind dust particles together, preventing them from becoming airborne.
  4. Surface Active Agents. Surface active agents, also known as surfactants, are chemical compounds that reduce the surface tension of water, allowing it to better saturate dust and bind them together. This creates a more effective barrier between the dust and the air, reducing airborne dust levels.
  5. Lignosulfonates. Derived from lignin, a naturally occurring polymer found in wood, lignosulfonates act like glue to bind road particles together. This helps to reduce dust and keep the road surface intact.
  6. Liquid Polymers. This dust suppressant provides an exceptional surface coating on nearly all soil and resource surfaces. It is used to prevent fugitive dust and soil erosion, stabilize and solidify any soil or aggregate as well as erosion control and dust suppression.
  7. Highly Refined Synthetic Fluids. Highly refined synthetic fluids are an effective dust control method that can be used to reduce dust levels in a variety of environments. This type of dust control is environmentally friendly and clear.
  8. Polymer Emulsions. Polymer emulsions offer an effective way to reduce dust levels in various applications such as unpaved roadways and stockpiles, slope erosion control, quarry dirt roads, and haul roads.
  9. Petroleum Derivatives. Petroleum-based oils, such as mineral or emulsified oils, are commonly used as dust suppression solutions. These products can be harmful to human health and the environment, so it is important to use safe and non-toxic additives when choosing a dust suppressant.
  10. Mechanical Methods. Mechanical methods may be effective in controlling dust in mining and construction sites. These methods include water, salts and brines, bitumen emulsions, surface active agents, lignosulfonates, liquid polymers, misting cannons, paving, chemical dust suppression, and vegetative cover.

Best Dust Control Techniques: Application and Performance

dust control measures

Dust emissions are a common side effect of wind and traffic movements, often forming small airborne particles. The size of dust particles varies depending on the source of their generation, impacting the kind of dust control methods needed for a certain case. Different dust control techniques may be employed in mines and construction sites vs horse arenas vs dirt roads to manage dust levels.

Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride is a versatile and cost-effective dust control agent and one of our team's top choices for treating dust. It is highly soluble, available in both liquid and flake form, and attracts moisture from the air to keep the road damp even under hot conditions.

Calcium chloride is an effective way to reduce dust on roads and elsewhere because it binds with the soil particles, preventing them from becoming airborne. This helps to improve visibility on the roads and reduce health risks associated with breathing in dust. Additionally, calcium chloride helps to prevent erosion by stabilizing the soil and reducing its ability to be washed away by rain or wind.

Calcium chloride also serves the dual purpose of managing ice and snow, making it an even more cost-effective choice for when winter rolls around.

The amount of calcium chloride needed will vary depending on the type of soil, climate conditions, and other factors. Generally speaking, it should be applied at a rate of 1-2 gallons per square yard of surface area. It's also important to ensure that the calcium chloride is evenly distributed across the surface area being treated.

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride is one of the most popular solutions for dust suppression chemicals and another of our recommendations. It has many applications, from untreated soils and construction sites to baseball fields and aggregate surfaces. It is a hygroscopic and deliquescent material, meaning it has the ability to absorb moisture from the air. This helps bind fine dust together to keep roads stabilized, slow the loss of aggregate, reduce the need for costly regrading, and suppress more dust per gallon than water.

Magnesium chloride also works well in humid or freezing climates as a type of de-icer that is completely non-toxic and safe for use around animals and plants.

Overall, magnesium chloride is an excellent choice for dust management due to its effectiveness, safety, and minimal environmental impact. When used properly, it can help reduce dust emissions on roads and other surfaces while providing long-term stability and protection against erosion.


Water is the most widely used dust suppressant, and particle agglomeration through the capillary effect of water is the most common dust control measure. When applied regularly and lightly, it can help bind the fine soil particles together and keep dust levels down.

However, there are some challenges associated with using water for dust suppression. The balance between efficacy and sustainability can be difficult to maintain, as a single application of water has a very short-lasting effect. Additionally, over-watering can lead to the destruction of soil structure and make it unsuitable for use as a subgrade.

Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils have been studied and tested to be an effective, safe, and economical dust control solution. Canola, flax, corn, sunflower, and soybean oils are some of the most popular vegetable oils used to prevent dust. The oil-based suppressants can be applied in various ways, such as oil sprinkling systems or as a dust suppressant additive.

When applying vegetable oils as a dust suppressant, it is important to consider the top 1-2 inches of the soil surface. This will ensure that the oil is evenly distributed across the surface and will provide maximum effectiveness.


dust suppression methods

Sealing unpaved roads can be an effective way to reduce dust emissions and protect soils from vehicle wheels. Gravel provides a hard surface that helps keep the road intact, however, it does not reduce the strength of air currents caused by vehicles themselves, so traffic can still blow loose soil particles into the air.

To ensure that the fine material remains in place for a long period of time, it must be anchored to the road surface. This can be done by incorporating gravel with aggregate mixes or soil adhesives.

If gravel is lost by being pressed into soils beneath the road, then geotextile fabrics may be necessary to prevent this from happening. These fabrics are constructed of polymer threads with very high tensile strength and are designed to either form water barriers or allow water, but not fine soil, to migrate through.

With so many extra steps necessary, it may be best to invest in another option off the list.

Organic Petroleum Products

Asphalt and petroleum-based dust palliative suppressants are effective for controlling dust, but they come with potential risks. These products contain semi-volatile polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), some of which are known human carcinogens.

During application, the asphalt emulsion is heated to allow for smooth application, releasing vapors that can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. The LD50 and LC50 values for some common petroleum-based dust palliatives range from moderately toxic (50-500 mg/kg) to slightly toxic (>500 mg/kg).

Once asphalt is stabilized it should not pose a risk to humans or wildlife, but liquid petroleum-based oils should not be applied near drinking water supplies due to potential contamination from leaching or stormwater runoff. Liquid petroleum-based oils should also be kept away from waterways and wildlife areas.

Synthetic Polymer Emulsions

Synthetic polymer dust suppressants are a type of dust control solution that can be used to increase the tensile strength of clay roads. These polymers, such as polyvinyl acetate and vinyl acrylic derivatives, bind to the dust, creating a more cohesive surface. The application of these dust suppressants only needs to be done once every few years and can provide long-term protection from airborne dust particles.

However, synthetic polymers tend to break down in moist or freezing conditions, so they may not be suitable for all climates. In comparison to magnesium or calcium chloride, which actively work to treat snow and ice, this presents a huge downside.

Additionally, some synthetic polymer-based dust palliatives have LD50 and LC50 values ranging from moderately toxic (50-500 mg/kg) to mildly toxic (> 500 mg/kg). Therefore, it is important to read the MSDS before use in order to avoid any potential personal injury during application.

When Is the Best Time to Apply Dust Suppressants?

dust management

Dust suppressants should be applied in late spring after the seasonal rains have ended and while the subgrade and surface materials are still moist. Chloride-based dust suppressants should not be applied during or just before heavy rain, as this may cause the material to wash away. If it looks like it will rain within 36 hours of application, it is best to wait until after the rain has passed.

If the surface has minimal natural moisture, it is recommended to prewet the surface with water in order to reduce surface tension and ensure maximum penetration of chloride-based dust suppressants. Make sure that the water applied is free of any contaminants that could harm the fill material or environment. It is suggested to saturate the top 25 mm of the surface before applying chloride-based dust suppressants.

In cases where a dust coat has already formed, regrading and moistening should be done. Before adding dry flake, it is highly recommended to give it a light spray of water first.

Generally, cooler and/or more humid periods will result in decreased evaporation and increased surface moisture - which leads to a significant increase in dust control efficiency. Early morning or evening application is recommended during hot sunny periods to prevent rapid evaporation of the water being applied.

How Much and How Often Should Dust Suppressants Be Applied?

As we've mentioned, magnesium and calcium chloride are your best bets for suppressing dust. For optimal performance, more than one treatment with chloride-based dust suppressants may be required in a single year. It is recommended to follow manufacturers’ application rate suggestions when applicable.

Application rates are normally increased on unpaved roads that experience the highest traffic volume. Under certain conditions, such as when relative humidity is low (<40%) and the fines content is low (<10%), dust suppressant application rates should be increased to account for these variables.

For long-lasting dust control, it is recommended to make a second treatment as soon as the first application starts to become ineffective. This should be done in late summer or early fall if the first treatment was made in spring. This will ensure that dust control lasts throughout the fall and help protect roads from frost heave during winter.

Make sure to obtain the necessary "residual" of the product. This involves taking into account the evaporation of water from the concentrate, as well as diluting the product before application. Ultimately, it is the residual that is responsible for holding fine particles together or creating large clumps. For areas exposed to heavy traffic such as logging and mining roads, it is recommended to increase the application rate of chloride-based dust suppressants.

Additionally, compaction of the aggregate on curves can help keep the material in place. Moreover, since drivers may make sharp turns in parking lots or trucking terminals, a higher application rate should be used when keeping dust under control.

For maximum effectiveness, the liquid dust suppressant should penetrate 3/8 to 3/4 inches into the surface. This helps reduce loss due to surface water, prevents leaching, and imparts cohesion. It also ensures that the dust suppressant has better longevity.

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Find the Best Dust Control Products at Ninja De-Icer Today!

Dust suppression and other dust control measures are important in various industries as they help protect people, equipment, buildings, and the outdoor environment from dangerous airborne particles.

At Ninja De-Icer, we understand that these practices protect the air quality around residential areas and work sites, reduce risks of fires and explosions, improve visibility for workers and drivers, prevent potential soil and water contamination, as well as provide other benefits such as improved product quality. We take it seriously and only offer the best products to achieve the best outcomes.

If you want to take advantage of all these benefits, make sure to use reliable dust suppressants and dust control techniques. Get a quote from Ninja De-Icer for the best dust suppression products and solutions today!