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Dust Control FAQs

By Frank Elswick on 04/01/2016

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Dust control is a vital task for industries from mines to local municipalities. Surprisingly, there's a lot of misinformation about what exactly dust control entails, and what the best methods are for keeping dust levels down. We've answered some of the most commonly asked questions below.

Isn't there basically one method for dust control?

No. In fact, dust suppressants can be divided into 7 categories, but there are three methods which are the most popular: the application of water, the application of water-absorbing products like salts, and the application of organic petroleum products like emulsions. A higher moisture content on the surface materials of a road causes them to stick together and limit dust, which is why frequent road waterings are a popular method for dust control.

Deliquescent salts are commonly used for the same reason — calcium chloride and magnesium chloride draw moisture out of the air and into the soil. However, salts can corrode vehicles and lead to slippery roads, and will eventually wash away with inclement weather. Asphalt emulsions, a mix of asphalt and water, are used to coat surface particles and bind them together.

There is a difference in the kinds of dust that need to be controlled as well. While road dust occurs most frequently, maintaining coal dust control is crucial for environmental and community health. Solutions like Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc.’s coats coal before it is transported, penetrating particles to prevent them from escaping. And EK35® has proven time and again to be a powerful fighter against gravel road degradation and dust creation.

Why can't I just use water?

You can, but it is inefficient and less effective than other methods. Road watering requires light applications to avoid damaging the surface, but it dries quickly, so applications must be frequent to be truly effective. In order to keep up, a massive amount of water is needed to sufficiently control fugitive dust — controlling dust on a three-mile stretch of road 15 feet wide consumes approximately 6,000 gallons water every day. That’s more than a family of four uses in one month. This model is simply unsustainable. 

Doesn't it require constant upkeep?

With the right solutions, gravel roads actually need less care and last longer than those preventative care. Methods like road watering do require constant upkeep and can damage the road if used improperly. Midwest’s SF2® Stabilization system, however, strengthens gravel roadways by 80% in the just first 48 hours after application, and continues to bolster that strength by up to 400% with continued traffic.

This is true over the course of two years, so maintenance costs and reapplications are substantially minimized. And this is only one of many of Midwest’s solutions — the team works with clients to determine the best course of action on a case by case basis.

Won't it damage the product or road?

Not if you use Midwest. All of our products have received the proper certifications that ensure you’re getting the best, safest option available. Midwest has worked with scientists from NASA to carefully develop systems that not only protect your product, but also protect the environment. Our solutions are nontoxic and non-water soluble, so they will not leach into soils or water sources as a contaminate. Furthermore, Midwest systems increase the strength of roadways even as they eliminate damaging potholes and washboarding. We cover our bases, and your dust completely.

About Author

Frank Elswick

Written by Frank Elswick

Frank is the sales unit manager of Midwest's road construction, natural paving markets.

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