Water quality impacts from surfaces treated with dust suppressants and soil stabilizers

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Clark County Health District




This report presents the results of field experiments on the potential water quality impacts from the application of dust suppressants to disturbed lands in Clark County, Nevada. This is an important issue not only in the southwest, but in all of the U.S. since there are currently minimal guidelines for the use of dust suppressants. The use of dust suppressants is driven by the need of communities to comply with air quality standards of PM-10 (particulate matter less than 10 μm in diameter) emissions. There is, however, concern that the solution of this air pollution problem will have other unanticipated environmental and human health consequences. Dust suppressants include water, fiber mulches, water-absorbing materials (e.g., calcium chloride, magnesium chloride), petroleum based organics (e.g., asphalt emulsion), non-petroleum based organics (e.g., vegetable oil, molasses), synthetic polymer emulsions, and lignin products. These materials are generally effective in minimizing dust; however, little is known about the effects of the products on the environment and human health.

In Clark County, there is the potential for dust suppressants to be used on large areas to minimize the PM-10 emissions from lands that are disturbed from construction activities and on unpaved roads. Furthermore, all of the Las Vegas Valley drains to Lake Mead which is a drinking water source for many communities in the southwest. It is undesirable to allow the application of dust suppressants that could potentially contribute contaminated runoff to Lake Mead. The agencies sponsoring this research (Clark County Health District, Clark County Air Quality Management Agency, Las Vegas Valley Water District, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Clark County Flood Control District, and the City of Las Vegas) recognize that research on all the potential environmental impacts is important; however, impacts of dust suppressants on water quality were given the highest priority for this study. Therefore, the overall objective of this research was to generate basic data for evaluating the water quality impacts of major categories of dust suppressants. This information will serve as a scientific basis for proposed guidelines on the application of dust suppressants to disturbed lands.


Dust control; Nevada – Clark County; Water quality


Atmospheric Sciences | Climate | Other Environmental Sciences | Other Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology | Water Resource Management




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