Whether you own a private dirt road or share an unpaved road with neighbors, chances are the issue of dust control has come up at some point. Road dust seems harmless at first glance, but it can actually pose a wide variety of health, environmental and engineering dangers. Not only does uncontrolled road dust make it harder to see oncoming traffic and other obstacles, but it can also trigger allergies and other respiratory ailments in vulnerable people. The loss of binding material in the form of dust also causes unpaved roads to deteriorate faster.
There are plenty of methods to control road dust, including the use of calcium chloride and various petroleum-based products. However, some of these methods are often expensive and may have an undesirable environmental impact. The following offers several non-chemical methods that can be used to effectively suppress road dust.
Reducing Road Speeds
The faster a vehicle travels on an unpaved road, the more dust it's likely to kick up. As a result, reducing road speeds along unpaved stretches can prove an effective way of controlling road dust. According to the State of Alaska Division of Air Quality, reducing vehicle speeds on unpaved roads from 40 mph to 20 mph provided a 65-percent reduction in dust emissions.
To ensure that other road users also reduce their speeds along unpaved stretches, you may want to consider implementing traffic calming measures modified for use on unpaved roads. For example, you can place speed bumps at regular intervals to encourage low-speed travel.
Reducing Traffic Levels
Another way to reduce road dust involves reducing the number of vehicles that use unpaved roads. This is often done by placing weight restrictions on vehicles that use the road. Officials may also restrict the types of vehicles that are allowed to use the road. Other measures may include the use of barriers to block larger vehicles from traversing the road, limiting the road itself to pedestrian or non-motorized bicycle traffic.
Watering the Road
Instead of using deliquescent salts like calcium chloride, synthetic polymers or petroleum-based binders to control road dust, plain water can be used as an effective short-term suppressant. Unfortunately, the effects of unpaved road watering only last for a few days before repeat treatment is needed. In comparison, other dust control products may last for significantly longer periods of time between treatments. Keep in mind that you'll need to transport a water tank capable of spreading water from the back of a pickup truck or from a trailer towed by a truck or all-terrain vehicle.
Covering Unpaved Roads with Gravel
Gravel offers an effective non-chemical method of suppressing road dust. When spread across a dirt road surface, gravel can help significantly reduce the amount of dust kicked up by passing vehicles. However, most gravel roads require a good base of crushed aggregate underneath, otherwise the constant weight of passing traffic can steadily push the gravel into the unpaved road surface. Traffic can also cause the gravel to migrate away from the road itself, exposing the unpaved road surface underneath.
Controlling the Wind
Controlling how the wind interacts with unpaved roads offers yet another way of suppressing road dust. This type of control often comes in the form of windbreaks placed along the length of the roadway. These strategically placed barriers are not designed to prevent wind movement. Instead, these barriers are used to slow down and redirect the wind without creating excess of turbulence. Shrubbery, hedges and small trees can be used to form natural windbreaks along the roadway, while picket fences and berms can be employed as artificial windbreaks.
The above measures offer an effective means of controlling road dust without resorting to expensive and environmentally unfriendly methods of dust suppression. Contact a company like GMCO Corporation for more information on controlling road dust.