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Dust control products at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Texas: environmental safety and performance

August 17, 2015

Controlling fugitive dust while protecting natural resources is a challenge faced by all managers of unpaved roads. Unfortunately, road managers choosing between dust control products often have little objective environmental information to aid their decisions. To address this information gap, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborated on a field test of three dust control products with the objectives of (a) evaluating product performance under real-world conditions, (b) verifying the environmental safety of products identified as practically nontoxic in laboratory tests, and (c) testing the feasibility of several environmental monitoring techniques for use in dust control tests. In cooperation with refuge staff and product vendors, three products (one magnesium chloride plus binder, one cellulose, and one synthetic fluid plus binder) were applied in July 2012 to replicated road sections at the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. These sections were monitored periodically for 12 months after application. Product performance was assessed by mobile-mounted particulate-matter meters measuring production of fugitive dust and by observations of road conditions. Environmental safety was evaluated through on-site biological observations and leaching tests with samples of treated aggregate. All products reduced dust and improved surface condition during those 12 months. Planned environmental measurements were not always compatible with day-to-day refuge management actions; this incompatibility highlighted the need for flexible biological monitoring plans. As one of the first field tests of dust suppressants that explicitly incorporated biological endpoints, this effort provides valuable information for improving field tests and for developing laboratory or semifield alternatives.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Dust control products at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Texas: environmental safety and performance
DOI 10.3141/2472-08
Authors Bethany K. Kunz, Edward E. Little
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Transportation Research Record
Series Number
Index ID 70155965
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center