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The HSE Issues of Dust, and Dust Control Products

The HSE Concerns of Dust

Dust is a serious health, safety, and environmental hazard that can be mitigated easily with the right dust control strategy.  The causes of dust are many, yet while the hazards of some materials, like those with asbestos, are carefully controlled, long term exposure to even simple road or floor dust can cause serious HSE issues.

Road Dust

Western Canada’s resource economy is heavily reliant on dusty gravel roads to access remote production sites.   Some such roads are heavily trafficked, with large trucks leaving clouds of dust a kilometer or more behind them.  These often windy and hilly roads are hazardous at the best of times.  An untreated road in warm, arid conditions can be as dangerous as driving in a dense fog or blizzard.  Not being able to see an oncoming vehicle can be fatal.   And it is just a problem for those driving on the roads.  The constant dust can be suffocating for those living nearby, staying at campgrounds, or enjoying outdoor activities.

Aggregate Dust

While traffic safety from road dust provides the most evident demand for dust control, aggregates like coal and petroleum coke (petcoke) also produce dangerous dust.  They produce dust not only when they are being produced, but also while being stored and transported by conveyor belts, loaders, trains, and trucks.  On a windy day, this dust can be carried many kilometers from where the dust was first produced.  The health effects can be fatal.

A 2016 study in the Environmental Science and Technology journal found that dust from stockpiles of aggregate petroleum coke, left over from oil sands upgrading, is very likely a key source of cancer-linked polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) commonly found in the northern Alberta region.  Other aggregates like fine coal dust have found to cause a lung condition called Pneumoconiosis.  Dust from coal and other aggregates have also been found to bother those with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Dust Control Products

Factors to Consider

Today’s widespread focus on HSE has made dust control products a mandatory cost of doing business.  When choosing a dust control product there are several factors to consider:

  1. Effectiveness – some products are effective all year after a single application, others are applied as often as four times per day.
  2. Safety and environmental impact – safer, more environmentally friendly products will reduce both environmental impact and maintenance costs.
  3. Cost per year – understanding the yearly cost of a dust control solution is imperative.   The cost per application should be multiplied by the number of applications per year to determine this annual cost. Taking into account cost of road and equipment maintenance and environmental impact are also important factors to consider.

Pros and Cons of Dust Control Products

Water is often seen as the cheapest and most ecofriendly dust control product.  This simply isn’t true.  With as many as four applications required daily, the excessive water use is costly and generates more emissions than any other dust control product.  Additionally, frequent water application creates potholes damaging vehicles and requiring frequent grading.   Applying an oil-based dust control product can be highly effective, however is extremely toxic if the product leaches into waterways.  Salt based dust control products like calcium or magnesium chloride are cheap and effective in areas with relative humidity over 30%.  Over long exposure however, these products are corrosive to equipment and adversely affect plant and aquatic life.

Polymer based dust control products can be highly effective, with minimal impact on the environment, but are expensive.  The last group of dust control products are organic products such as the wood pulp biproduct, lignosulfonate (ligno).  Ligno is affordable and has a very low environmental impact.  However, it dries out easily and washes off during heavy rain and is generally less effective than other dust control products.

A Cost Effective and Safe Alternative

Novamen offers a wide variety of dust control products, including an organic blend called Nova DCP-C.  Nova DCP-C is a highly effective road dust control product, used by rural counties as well forestry, oil and gas, and mining companies.  It is both a good binder and is hygroscopic, absorbing moisture from the atmosphere, so it does not dry out and wash off the road.  Nova DCP-C has undergone full environmental testing.  It has passed both the OECD 202: Daphnia magna and OECD 203: Rainbow Trout acute toxicity tests.  It is proven its effective across Western Canada and is becoming the go product where affordability and ecofriendliness are top concerns.

Novamen also has affordable and ecofriendly dust control products that are specifically designed for suppressing dust on aggregate piles, conveyor belts, and for rail car topping.  Contact Novamen today to learn more about effective solutions for your dust problems.

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