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Options for Keeping Road Dust at Bay

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Whether you're putting in a new dirt road or you're trying to mitigate issues with an existing one, one of the most common issues that arises is dust. The good news is that you're not stuck with dust clouds as an inevitability. By working with a local road dust control specialist, you have many different options to keep that overwhelming dust at bay. Here are several of the choices that may be available to you.

Tilling—Tilling will break up the soil on the surface, drawing up some of the moister soil underneath. The moister soil won't blow around as easily, which will help minimize the dust accumulation. Tilling is usually only an option if the road surface is flat, so you won't be able to use it if there are significant valleys or other surface issues along the road. In addition, tilling is only a temporary solution, as the soil that is drawn to the surface will dry out and become dusty over time.

Dampening—Adding water to the surface of a dirt road space is a great way to keep dust at bay, because it keeps the surface dirt wet. In addition, it's an affordable option. The goal isn't to soak the roadway, because that may cause washouts. Instead, you'll want a steady trickle of water distributed evenly across the road so that it just soaks into the surface. Most road dust control companies have a large water sprayer that they can use to coat the surface of the road in a single pass, making it a quick and easy solution. The major downside to this is that you'll have to reapply the water a few times a day for the best results.

Surface Binding—Surface binding is a great alternative if you're looking for a more long-term solution. It involves applying chemicals to the surface of the road to bind the sand particles together. There are several different binding options available to choose from.

  • Petroleum Binders—Petroleum binders come in many forms, including a few different forms of asphalt. The road surface gets coated with a thin layer of asphalt to increase the mass of the sand particles. This reduces the chances of the sand turning to dust, because it's heavier. In many cases, the emulsified asphalt is worked into the top couple of inches of dirt. The downside is that the asphalt solution can lead to waterway contamination from runoff, so it's a less common option.
  • Organic Dust Suppressant—Organic suppressants include things like resins and wood extracts. A common wood extract, lignin, is a polymer. It is often used to bind particles together, including dirt particles on roadways. Lignin is extracted from wood as part of the process of making paper. It's important to note, though, that these materials can be water soluble, which will push them deeper into the roadway surface following rain storms.
  • Synthetic Polymers—A synthetic polymer includes materials like acetates and polyvinyl acrylic materials. They form a stiff film over the roadway surface, binding the soil together. You can find them in either liquid form or a powder that must be dissolved in water. Once applied, these treatments must be left undisturbed while they cure. You may need to close the road for a day to allow this to happen.

As you can see, there are many different options available for you to deal with persistent dust on your roadway. If your soil is highly absorbent, watering may not be the best choice, because the moisture will be drawn deeper into the soil quickly. And if you need a more long-term solution, a binding product may be your best choice. Talk with a company that offers road dust control about the most effective options for your particular situation.