PacTrans: Development of a Laboratory Procedure for Measuring the Effectiveness of Dust Control Palliatives

AIDC project number:


David L. Barnes

  • Start Date: Dec 16, 2015
  • End Date: Dec 15, 2016

Project Documents

Project Final Report

Project Summary

Dust control in many rural communities is becoming a priority. Since we have started research on controlling dust in rural regions we have truly engaged rural communities. Rural residents are seeing how controlling dust can reduce the negative environmental impact and improve their and their community’s quality of life. This research has been a collaborative effort with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (AKDOT&PF), the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), and the dust control palliative industry. As we worked with community leaders on controlling dust in their villages, we were often asked questions about which product should be used how much, and how often it should be applied. These are valid questions, all of which require evaluation and measurement procedures that are both accuracy and reliable. Unlike other surface stabilization methods used by the transportation industry (e.g. asphalt treatment, cement, etc. ) all of which have mature and widely accepted laboratory test methods that correlate to their field performance there are no field or laboratory testing procedures for determining the what type of, or how much, dust control palliatives should be used on any given unpaved or natural wearing surfaces. Hence, engineers and road managers are forced into a trial‐and‐error methodology or relying on personal judgement determining what they think would work best on their gravel roads or runways.

The loss of the fine soil fraction has created a public health and safety issue nationwide, and as the unending supply of dust clouds are being generated from untreated gravel roads or runways, the problem from the loss of the surface fines is at work too, by to accelerating the deterioration until the road or airport is rendered unusable. Maintaining these surfaces in a usable condition has its own budgetary and financial challenges as the need for additional resources are required to combat the soil erosion of the gravel surfaces to pay for imported materials such as crushed aggregates, which needs to be mined, processed, transported, and placed into service.. With the proper application of synthetic fluids health, safety, and gravel surfaces can be preserved by simply controlling airborne dust and the loss of fines with the added benefit of providing the needed help in to reduce maintenance work and the continual escalation of costs associated with maintain these types of facilities. However, without understanding the relationship between the in situ properties of the aggregate soil matrixes used as surface wearing courses and their performance under differing formulations and concentrations of palliatives the benefits described, here in, may not be fully utilized or completely realized. The overall objective of this proposed research is to finalize the development of a laboratory test procedure for evaluating different dust control formulations and concentration levels needed to effectively control the airborne suspension of fine particles of a soil‐aggregate sample in the size range of 10 μm or less (i.e. dust, or fines). We will work with the AKDOT&PF to take the results from this research (by developing and validated a formal testing protocol) for adoption by AASHTO Subcommittee on Materials (SOM) to be initially published as a AASHTO Provisional Test Method (for a minimum 2‐year period) before it can be balloted for conversion to a Full Standard Test Method.