Characterizing potential water quality impacts from soils treated with dust suppressants

Received for publication April 24, 2008. Two separate laboratory experiment series, surface runoff and steady-state seepage, were performed to determine if dust suppressant products can be applied to soils with an expected minimal to no negative impact on water quality. The experiments were designed to mimic arid field conditions and used two soils (clayey and sandy) and six different dust suppressants. The two experiments consisted of: (i) simulated rainfall (intensities of 18, 33, or 61 mm h–1) and associated runoff from soil trays at a surface slope of 33%; and (ii) steady-state, constant head seepage through soil columns. Both experiment series involved two product application scenarios and three application ages (i.e., to account for degradation effects) for a total of 126 surface runoff and 80 column experiments. One composite effluent sample was collected from each experiment and analyzed for pH, electrical conductivity, total suspended solids (TSS), total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, total organic carbon, nitrate, nitrite, and phosphate. Paired t tests at 1 and 5% levels of significance and project specific data quality objectives are used to compare water quality parameters from treated and untreated soils. Overall, the results from this laboratory scale study suggest that the studied dust suppressants have minimal potential for adverse impacts to selected water quality parameters. The primary impacts were increased TSS for two synthetic products from the surface runoff experiments on both soils. The increase in TSS was not expected based on previous studies and may be attributed to this study's focus on simulating real-world soil agitation/movement at an active construction site subjected to rough grading.

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