How much should we be concerned about road dust?
A major problem associated with the estimated 1.6 million miles of unpaved roads in the United States is dust. This dust can contribute to a)
roadway safety problems due to impaired visibility, b) reduced roadway longevity due to a loss of surfacing/binding materials, c) reduced
vehicle life due to the overwhelming presence of abrasive particulates in the air, and d) environmental health issues due to the many negative
impacts of particulate matter in the atmosphere. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, road dust is a major source of particulate
matter in the atmosphere (second largest source of- PM 2.5, largest source of PM 10). Presently, there is no focused source of information
to help transportation agencies address road dust related issues, and no focused agenda/organization to advance the state-of-the-practice
in mitigating these issues.
Working Toward a Solution
In 2010, following on the heels of a successful national Road Dust Management and Future Needs Conference (2008) and Road Dust Survey
and Scan Tour (2010), the Western Transportation Institute began preparations for the organization of a Road Dust Institute. Joined by the
University of Nevada - Las Vegas, University of California - Davis, the Alaska University Transportation Center and the Federal Highway
Administration's Central Federal Lands Highway Division, the Dust Institute will collect, store, and distribute information, discuss challenges
and needs, and conduct research related to road dust. To accomplish this goal a strategic plan, business plan, and marketing plan will be
developed to help establish the Road Dust Institute as a viable association dedicated to improving road dust management in rural transportation,
and to develop a website to house dust-related information, as well as engage the road dust abatement community as a whole.
- Air Quality
- Dust Suppression
- Soil Stabilization
- Test Methods / Spec Development