Safety Project on the Environmental Effects of Dust Suppressant Chemicals on Unpaved Roads

Focus Area

Water Quality/Wetlands


Natural Resources




Over $750k


2-3 years

Research Idea Scope

TERI Administrator Note (Feb 2009) – Related Research: Investigation of Water Runoff and Leaching Impacts from Dust Suppressants, Fred Hall, US Environmental Protection Agency, 2008

The majority of research on dust suppressants has been by industry and has focused on the effectiveness (or performance) of dust suppressants to abate dust, however, little information is available on the potential environmental and health impacts of these compounds.

Potential environmental impacts include: surface and groundwater quality deterioration; soil contamination; toxicity to soil and water biota; toxicity to humans during and after application; air pollution; accumulation in soils; changes in hydrologic characteristics of the soils; and impacts on native flora and fauna populations.

The project will consist of two parts – laboratory testing and field assessment.

The laboratory project will evaluate the toxicity of two chemical classes of dust suppressants 1) in laboratory tests with aquatic and terrestrial organisms as well as aquatic and terrestrial plants and 2) in field studies to determine effects of these chemicals on biological communities in natural areas following chemical application. The  results will be compared among chemical classes and the potential environmental effects will be identified and ranked using a risk assessment framework.

Urgency and Payoff

The purpose of the project is to assure that dust suppressants are used and applied in a manner that will protect the animal, plant and aquatic systems while providing significant reductions in dust particulate matter for cleaner air and safer driving conditions on unpaved, public gravel roads.

Suggested By

Sean Furniss, Refuge Roads Coordinator; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

[email protected]