Cooperators with USGS: US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service
Statement of Problem
: More than 1.5 million miles of roads in the U.S. are unpaved. Although dust from unpaved roads may seem like a simple nuisance, it creates health hazards for those living near roads and safety hazards for drivers. Dust also increases equipment wear and degrades road surfaces. As a result, more than 150 products are commercially available for dust control, and tens of millions of gallons of these products are applied every year in the U.S. However, few studies have investigated potential environmental impacts of dust suppressant application. To address this knowledge gap, the USGS-Columbia Environmental Research Center has partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to evaluate the environmental safety of dust suppressant products in both laboratory and field tests.
: Phases One and Two of the project used laboratory toxicity tests to identify several products with low aquatic toxicity. Phase Three is evaluating the performance and environmental safety of selected products when applied under real-world conditions in field tests. This improved data will help ensure that federal agencies and other road managers can make informed decisions about effective, environmentally safe dust control. Additional tests are evaluating the toxicity of bio-based dust suppressants on the USDA BioPreferred list.
For more project information and latest updates:
USGS field tests at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX, are featured in the March/April issue of Refuge Update:
BioPreferred Road Products Study Data Tables and Metadata