Dust Control Program Driven by Science

A Dust Control Program Driven By Science

In Dust Control, Fines Preservation® Program by Bob Vitale

Dodge these common myths that may be costing you up to 60% of the results you could be achieving with a proper dust control program. 

Over the past 40 years, since the birth of the dust control industry, people have been looking for an effective dust control program. Government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, have produced documents detailing the threats of dust and methods to control it. And yet, despite everything we’ve learned, much of the industry hasn’t advanced beyond the early days. 

People remain confused about effective dust control programs, including believing a range of myths about how dust control works. It’s not the fault of these individuals; apart from Midwest, no one else in the industry has really talked much about the science behind dust control. (It’s easier to sell a one-off product and promise that it will make all the difference, like some sort of magic bullet.) 

For years, some companies within the dust control industry have pushed the idea that it’s all about the product. If you’re trying to get the best possible dust control program, you’ve likely felt swamped by the competing claims. Should you choose chlorides for the low cost? Lignin sulfonates because they provide cohesion? 

In the end, many companies and government agencies stick to watering – it avoids the confusion and seems like the best low-cost option. (See our article here to learn why watering is one of the worst – and most costly – methods you can use.)

Ultimately, it’s about mindset: only Midwest is talking about the science behind a dust control program. No one is thinking beyond individual products. But when you begin to examine the scientific reality behind dust, and what it takes to control it, it begins to make sense that no product alone can get you sufficient results. In fact, at Midwest, after decades of application experience, we’ve learned that the product is only about 40% of what gets results. By having a product-only mindset, you’re losing out on as much as 60% of the results you could be experiencing. 

Don’t let myths get in the way of utilizing the ultimate dust control program.

The Top 5 Dust Control Myths That Can Render Your Dust Control Program Ineffective

We’ve seen these ideas over and over again, and they all stem from a short-term, low-cost mindset. Once again, this isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just that the science hasn’t been discussed enough. Dust control programs appear like an annoying expense that organizations want to minimize; however, if it were treated like a long-term investment, you would achieve the best possible dust control program while actually saving money in the long term.

Myth 1: Set it and forget it

This is what people like to hear, that there’s a magic bullet that will solve their dust control problem once and for all. But, like most things in life, that’s just not how it works. The best dust control product in the world will eventually break down and lose its effectiveness. 

Reapplication is simply necessary; for something like water or chlorides, you constantly have to replace lost material. For the most advanced products, like Midwest’s EK35, EnviroKleen and other lines of synthetic organic binder systems, reapplication creates a cumulative effect where the road surface gets stronger over time and less product is needed to keep dust down.  

When treated as an ongoing program, over time, costs and time spent battling dust or dealing with road maintenance go down, making the whole endeavor more hands off. 

Myth 2: A dust control program doesn’t work

Some people have been burned by dust control product manufacturers who have promised results to sell a product. Or they will ask Midwest to perform a test, one time, on a short stretch of particularly bad roadway. These one-off applications won’t get the desired results, so they believe dust control doesn’t work. 

The reality is that, once again, the best dust control program is only achieved by playing the long game. Reapplication. Testing. Tweaking. At the beginning, it’s about building a solid foundation for all future efforts. And that takes time. 

The hard truth here is that, yes, thinking only about the product and expecting perfect results up front does result in dust control not working. But there is a reliable way to reach your dust control objectives. It takes thinking a different way.

Myth 3: Every road surface/location is the same and getting a quote is as easy as providing dimensions

This is where an understanding of the science behind getting the best dust control program comes into play. People forget to take into account that soil types are different from one location to another. Road conditions, like traffic volume and the amount of precipitation, make a difference as well. 

All of these, and many other factors mean that no two sections of road surface are the same and that, sometimes completely different approaches may be required to get satisfactory results. 

Myth 4: Dust control is an easily replicable science

Similar to the above point, different conditions require different approaches. A successful dust control program is not as simple as following the exact same formula over and over again, in every new location. 

Getting the best possible dust control results requires a delicate mix of proven chemistries (all Midwest products are rigorously tested to provide the greatest possible control at a molecular level) and demonstrated application expertise (after 40 years in the trenches, Midwest’s technicians and engineers are experts at adapting dust control strategies based on unique local needs). 

Deep application expertise allows Midwest to maximize the impact of the product used. At Midwest, we know that the product alone is only responsible for 40% of the results achieved; the other 60% is from how it’s applied. 

Myth 5: All dust control products are the same

Stemming from the last point, if 60% of the desired results comes from application, you can see where this point breaks down. Many of Midwest’s competitors claim to have products that function very similarly to Midwest’s top lines. While their products might technically have some similarities to Midwest’s, they are focusing on the wrong thing.

It’s not about the product alone; it’s about making the product work optimally. If you apply an ordinary product ordinarily, expect ordinary results. Exceptional results require the best dust control products and even more so, they require exceptional application expertise. 

The Alternative to a Product-Only Focus – And How to Get the Best Dust Control Results

Midwest focuses on a comprehensive program over any one product. Ultimately, you’re after a certain outcome. And you need to achieve that outcome in the most affordable, least interruptive way possible. 

A well designed dust control program takes into account site differences, varying desired outcomes, budgets and more. And it results in a fixed monthly price that eliminates the risk of unexpected increases in budget. It creates a scientific approach of testing and tweaking to maximize results. (This is why we have termed our program, “dust control down to a science.”)

At Midwest, our dust control program begins by thoroughly understanding the unique environment of the application. On top of discussing local conditions, budget and desired outcomes with you, we conduct site-specific tests and develop metrics, allowing you to see how your dust control program is working. (In other words, we prove our results.)

Once we know everything we can about your situation, our consultants can then move on to making specific recommendations about product type and volume, application rate and more. Our team can then apply the product directly, or provide you with the product and application system, allowing a more DIY approach, depending on your preference. 

During and after the first round of application, our technicians track metrics to ensure you are getting the desired results. We’ll adjust our model as needed, then continue with our application schedule. 

Over time, you’ll be able to see the results, including the cumulative effect that our products have. You’ll know throughout exactly what you’re spending and what you’re getting for your investment. (And you’ll be able to see how you’re saving money over time.) 

If this sounds like a much more realistic, practical way to approach your dust control program, reach out to us today to set up a trial. We’ll do a test run on a stretch of road surface to demonstrate what we can achieve. We’ll only move on to a full program if you like what you see. If we do move forward, the cost of the test will be rolled into the cost of the whole program. Put Midwest to the test today and see how Dust Control Down to a Science will be the last time you have to think about a dust control program. 

Bob is founder and CEO of Midwest Industrial Supply.