A Closer Look at the Chemistries Behind Chemical Dust Control

In Dust Control, EnviroKleen®, Surface Management by Lynn Cielec

Not all dust suppressants are the same. Our guide to chemical dust control will help you find exactly the right product to meet your dust control needs.

While all dust suppressants share the same purpose, their chemistries can differ widely from product to product — and those differences have a huge impact on the results they ultimately earn . From polymer emulsions to sulfonated oils, there’s a wide variety of chemical compounds that can be used to prevent emissions, each of them designed to meet a different, specific set of needs.

Understanding the composition of available dust suppressants can help you make an informed decision for your company that gets you the dust control results you want. If you’re considering investing in a dust control program, this guide will help you to explore your options by walking you through the most common active chemistries in dust control products.

Industry Standards

Most dust suppressants are classified by chemical composition. Usually referenced by their main “performance mechanism,” the most common categories include water, water-absorbing, organic non-petroleum, organic petroleum, synthetic polymer, and synthetic fluids.

While these categories make it clear what each product contains, they offer much less insight into their actual effects. As a result, buyers who aren’t careful to research their options may find themselves with a product that doesn’t meet their needs, or worse, one that puts their workers, equipment, or the surrounding environment at risk. Let’s quickly outline the benefits and drawbacks of each category to give you a better sense of what you should expect.


Many companies regularly water their roads to manage dust emissions. Although it might seem like an inexpensive solution, watering prevents emissions only for as long as the treated road remains wet. Far worse, the process gradually erodes the surface of your roads by breaking down the fines that bind the aggregate together. As a result, the road simply generates more dust after every treatment, rendering the problem even worse than before your initial treatment.

Water Absorbents

Water-absorbent products such as calcium chloride are a quick and inexpensive solution to most dust control needs. While they’re a generally effective short-term treatment, these products aren’t designed to last for much longer than several weeks even on lightly used surfaces, limiting their long-term viability. They’re also unable to withstand the weight of heavy industrial equipment, easily wash away with rain or snow, and can contaminate water and vegetation if sufficient precautions aren’t taken.

Non-Petroleum Products and Petrochemicals

Just like the name suggests, petrochemical dust suppressants are made from petroleum oils: usually either used, mineral, or emulsified oils. Similarly, non-petroleum products are made from non-petroleum oils such as pine and vegetable. Because they’re composed of oils, these products can cause more environmental harm than water and synthetic products, though they’re generally highly effective.

Synthetic Polymer

Synthetic polymer products are composed of polymer emulsions, synthetic materials that form interlocking binders that fuse with the road aggregate and any fines within it to create an impenetrable surface. Engineered with performance and safety in mind, these biodegradable products can withstand heavy pressure and extreme temperatures without evaporating or leaching out of the surface, eliminating the need for frequent reapplications and reducing maintenance costs.

Synthetic Fluids

Like synthetic polymers, synthetic fluids are designed with polymeric or resin binders that settle onto the surface and fuse with the aggregate, preventing fines from escaping into the atmosphere. Both non-toxic and non-corrosive, these products don’t harm the worksite or the surrounding environment and ensure high performance.

With over forty years of experience in dust controlMidwest Industrial Supply, Inc. has the knowledge and expertise needed to help your company develop a reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly program. Our unique product EnviroKleen® was the first organic synthetic dust control product, and it continues to manage dust more effectively than any competitor. Regardless of your company’s needs, our patented solutions can help you address your biggest dust control challenges.

Lynn Cielec is the Industrial Business Unit Manager at Midwest Industrial Supply. She is an experienced executive sales director with a proven track record of results and sales growth. Effectively utilizes consultative selling methodologies within a CRM system while incorporating other value based selling tools. Expertise in building and leading high performing sales teams, strategic planning, P & L management, new business development, compensation development, market/trend analysis, new product launches and multi-sales channel distribution.