Wednesday, 1 November 2023 News Articles

Dust control: why we need it more than ever

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Dust suppression units play an essential role on NZ work sites. 

As New Zealand becomes hotter and drier, the need for effective dust management has never been greater.


Rainfall has always been seen as a natural form of dust suppression to a certain extent. Still, with our summers increasingly arid and climate change protracting dry seasons as less rain falls during the year, we rely more on systems like transportable dust suppression units for effective dust control. Couple this with the expansion of New Zealand's urban areas, complete with impermeable structures replacing vegetation and natural surfaces – and you have even more reasons to prioritise dust control. 


Dust management has always been critical, even if you eliminate the changing climate and urban sprawl. Airborne dust arises from many sources, including civil sites such as ports, forests and road works, construction sites, agricultural and horticultural activities, vehicle movements on sealed or unsealed roads and yards, and mining and mineral extraction. As regulations and resource consents become more stringent, dust management is necessary in all of these settings. Regardless of the source, dust must be controlled for our health, safety (particularly at work) and environment.   


When dust becomes airborne, it has several effects. It can hamper visibility, an area of concern particularly for traffic navigating through roading projects. Dust can also adversely impact the effective operation of machinery, with fine particles able to infiltrate small components and, over time, bring them to a halt without regular maintenance – maintenance that takes the machinery out of action, anyway. And, of course, dust can have direct health effects due to biologically active materials. As an extreme case, some mineral dusts with silica can cause a lung disease known as silicosis when present in high levels. A little less alarming but still unwelcome are alkaline dusts that irritate the eyes. Other types of dust may contain toxic metals such as mercury or lead, or even traces of asbestos, which was widely used in New Zealand not so long ago. Compost dust contains soil microbes, allergens, and pathogens, including legionella. Meanwhile, an increased number of housing developments and the associated infrastructure leads to the disturbance of natural vegetation, which releases pollens and similar organic allergens – hay fever sufferers will know very well how unpleasant that is. 


Considering those examples, it is fair to say that dust management, regardless of the type or the source, is a responsibility that has to be taken more seriously than ever before. This has to be seen in the light of compliance around work sites and an obligation to protect the safety of people working on site and the general public. Dust travels a long, long way –ask the people of Hawkes Bay, who are witnessing clouds of dry silt travelling several kilometres in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle. You do not necessarily have to be on-site to be affected.   


Keeping the dust down now requires more than the occasional hose-down. Well-designed dust suppression units, with a wide range of features to enhance operator safety and effectiveness, are vital. For example, Promax slip-on units are relatively easy to mount to the tray of a truck, with a range of tank capacities making it just as simple to match a suitable unit with the vehicle's size. Things like in-cab controls keep the operator well away from a dusty and potentially dangerous worksite. At the same time, high-quality components like tanks, pumps, hoses, and galvanised steel pipework combine for ongoing and reliable operation. Other features like fast bulk water transfer, hydrant filling, and ball baffle systems that deflect fluid surge movement during transportation should also be considered standard for modern dust management.


The best dust suppression methods will provide the most effective control in a dusty country- and one that is getting dustier.  


This summer, as dust levels are expected to rise, consider Promax Liquid Management Solutions as your ally in maintaining a clean and safe environment. Whether you're working on a construction project, managing an agricultural operation, or simply need a solution for dust control, we've got you covered.


Contact Our Civil Team