New soy-based suppressant deals with dust on rural roads

Due to its negative implications on the respiratory system, the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the American Lung Association, recognizes the importance of dust control.

“Short- and long-term exposure to air pollutants, such as dust, is associated with a number of adverse health impacts. For instance, short-term exposure to air pollutants can negatively impact lung function and exacerbate preexisting conditions like asthma and heart disease,” says Bailey Arnold, senior manager of clean air initiatives with the American Lung Association. “Long-term exposure to air pollutants is also associated with chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function, increased morbidity and mortality rates for lung cancer and heart disease, and heightened susceptibility and mortality to infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.”

Some 35% of our nation’s roads, which equates to more than 1.3 million miles, are unpaved, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The dust vehicles create as they travel on these roads amounts to about 1 ton of lost gravel per vehicle per year. Maintaining these roads is a major line item on a budget. In North Dakota, about 66% of local roadway budgets are spent on the state’s 60,000 miles of gravel roads. It costs more than $250,000 for a single piece of equipment to blade these roads. Less dust not only preserves gravel, but it also means safer roads and potentially fewer accidents because of improved visibility.

EPIC EL, which was developed using research funding from the United Soybean Board and North Dakota Soybean Council, is a new soy-based dust suppressant for roads, construction sites, farms, and more. The product is made from soybean oil as well as glycerin, a coproduct of biodiesel productionThe base chemistry for the product was created by a North Dakota State University (NDSU) research engineer with soybean checkoff support.

“When we look at vehicles going down the road, and we see dust going up, that dust is about a ton of material per vehicle per year per mile that we lose,” says Dale Heglund, North Dakota State University’s Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI), and North Dakota Local Technical Assistance Program (NDLTAP) director. “It goes onto the crops. It goes into homes. It goes off the roadway, and we have to replenish it. When you use products like EPIC EL dust suppressant that hold that surface together, it not only improves the safety of the roadway but also improves the gravel preservation. We’re keeping it in place. The investment we made stays there longer.”

An odorless, water-soluble product, EPIC EL also offers environmental benefits compared with salt-based mixtures commonly used to control dust. Soil leaching and equipment corrosion are among the concerns with these mixtures.

“A long-lasting, soy-biobased dust suppressant is a natural choice for farmers, county engineers, and government agencies, as well as businesses in rural and urban areas, to improve air quality, traffic safety, and sustainability,” says Dan Farney, United Soybean Board Chair and soybean farmer from Morton, Illinois.

newly released video shows how this innovation can help reduce dust on rural gravel roads near farms nationwide.

After finalizing a license agreement with the NDSU Research Foundation, BioBlend Renewable Resources will begin marketing EPIC EL nationwide in April 2021. Learn more by visiting unitedsoybean.orgndsoybean.org, or soybiobased.org.

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