Australian environmental consulting companies are often called in to help control dust on both private land and construction sites. If you can foresee dust problems at your project’s site or are already experiencing issues on your land, it’s best to attack the problem head-on, before it gets out of hand. So here are five of the best dust control strategies preferred by environmental consulting companies for either construction sites or private land.
1. Revegetate the land
The most environmentally friendly long term solution for controlling the loss of topsoil as airborne dust is to revegetate the area with native plants. This is a strategy that might be applicable to large privately owned land or towards the end of a construction project, as part of the landscaping. Re-planting barren areas is an extremely effective dust control strategy, as the native plants, bushes and trees not only cover the exposed soil and reduce the wind factor, but their roots help to bind the soil together.
2. Adding Dust Suppression Soil Binder Polymer coatings
Dust Suppression Soil Binder is a method that works well for construction sites that need a temporary application that lasts for the length of their project. For large areas it’s an inexpensive method that can be applied quickly to exposed soil, working almost immediately to reduce dust for construction sites, stockpiles, dirt roads, construction/hall roads, and large exposed areas caused by urban sprawl. Quality Soil Binder typically lasts 6-12 months depending on the dilution and can be reapplied if needed.
Hydromulching is another immediate, effective, economical revegetation strategy for large areas of exposed soil from construction and mining activity; whether the area is flat, hard to access or significantly steep. Hydromulch is a fibre-mulch mixture of seed, fertiliser, tackifier and water that is sprayed on exposed areas to generate grass growth. Significantly cheaper than laying turf for large areas, and although a higher cost than Soil Binder initially, Hydromulch provides a long term cover and does not need to be reapplied.
The mulch acts as a cover for the seed, helping it retain moisture for faster germination, while protecting the soil from erosion and the seeds from washing away in the rain. The mulch also consists of soil builders and growth stimulants which act to replenish the topsoil with much needed nutrients and improve the soils ability to support long term growth, all while promoting erosion control methods and soil stabilisation.
4. Cover exposed soil with Geofabric or Erosion Control Blanket
Another option to reduce dust on site is to temporarily cover areas of exposed soil with Geofabric or a biodegradable erosion control blanket. Geofabric is commonly used to temporarily cover exposed areas and loose soil stockpiles on construction sites. It is then peeled back and disposed of once the cover is no longer required. A more environmentally friendly option with less carbon footprint, is to use biodegradable erosion control blanket such as Hessian Cloth that does not need to be removed and thrown out; the blanket can be left to biodegrade naturally.
5. Integrated Construction Management
The best approach for dust control on any construction project is to have an Integrated Construction Management Approach. It is recommended to consult with an Environmental Scientist/ Certified Professional Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC) expert to implement an erosion and sediment control plan to prepare for all weather conditions, whether it be wet, dry and windy. It is important all workers on-site are well informed and follow protocol procedures (for example driving slowly on dirt roads to minimise dust). Therefore effective communication is required on all levels to ensure any soil stabilisation issues that arise are identified and reported, so the correct erosion control method or product can be applied. Ideally, management should also ensure proper machinery and materials are on-site, such as water trucks that can suppress dust and apply soil binder if needed, along with erosion control blankets.