According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost all of the global population breathe air that contains high levels of pollutants, with low-income countries suffering from the most exposures.

The effects of air pollution are associated with 7 million premature deaths annually, one major source being particulate matter pollution which mainly includes; dust and soot. 

The estimated yearly global premature deaths attributable to ambient particulate matter of size 2.5mm (PM2.5 ) exposure in 2019 amount to about 3 million, with the highest number of deaths occurring in Asia. 

A study of global dust storms’ impacts on health indicates that dust storms have significant public health impacts.

In addition to exacerbating short-term health effects, they may also cause long-term health effects, which may include health problems for pregnant mothers, and infants, the cognitive function of children, and an increase in infectious diseases.  

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Some specific consequences of dust pollution on public health include;  


  1. Dust outbreaks can cause bacterial infections: a systematic review of infectious diseases associated with dust storms concludes desert dust outbreaks cause a significant number of pathogenic microorganisms and an association between dust events and infectious disease outbreaks. 
  2. It leads to allergic response: Even though there is no specific study linking road, mining, or construction dust to allergic reactions and human response to each allergen being different from person to person, asthmatic patients have shown an increased risk of developing exacerbations from polluted air in general. It can therefore be safely assumed that dust pollution is dangerous to those who are asthmatic. 
  3. Eye and skin irritation: Dust particles can cause irritation and inflammation of the eyes and skin, leading to redness, itching, and discomfort. Some localized symptoms of irritation e.g. dry nose, throat irritation, coughing, sluggishness, sleepiness, headache, and inability to concentrate. These results indicate that non-industrial office dust may cause physiological changes and sensory symptoms in the eyes and nose. 
  4. Silica dust has been found to cause lung cancer showing consistent evidence of a causal relationship between silica exposure and lung cancer in both animal and human models. Asbestos-textured ceilings which are a possible source of asbestos exposure also show a risk of developing lung cancer in exposed individuals.  
  5. Particulate Matter of size 10mm (PM10) found in dust increases cardiovascular problems resulting in a 2% increase for every 10µg/m3 of PM10 dust in cardiovascular mortality risk as assessed on the same day of exposure. 

Dust mitigation strategies 

Dust mitigation strategies are measures taken to reduce or prevent the release of dust into the air. Using different methods transportation officials can use various dust management techniques by considering cost-benefit analysis.  

Important dust suppression techniques include; reducing the traffic, reducing vehicle speed, watering the road surface, graveling unpaved roads, application of polymers and other chemicals, sealing with impermeable pavements, reducing exposed ground, windbreaks, using dust collectors and personal protection equipment. 

Here are some important dust mitigation strategies: 

  1. Water sprays and misting tools: This is one of the most common dust mitigation tools in construction, mining, and unpaved roads. Watering used both indoor and outdoor wet dust particles making them settle. Despite its common usage, using water alone as a dust suppressant has been associated with disadvantages such as short-lasting effects, destroying soil structure rendering it unsuitable for use as a sub-grade, and other sustainability concerns. Products developed by Global Road Technology such as GRT: Haul-Loc, GRT Wet-Loc, and GRT:ACTIVATE have addressed these specific challenges by significantly reducing water requirements as well as improving the surface integrity of haul roads amongst other benefits. 
  2. Dust collectors – used in industrial settings to capture and remove dust particles from the air. The system cleans air by forcing it through a series of airtight filters and once cleaned, it is expelled outside or recirculated after it has achieved the proper emission standards.  Dust collection systems have become necessary for industries producing large amounts of dust particles and manufacturers are required to adhere to strict government guidelines, assure efficiency and comply with environmental regulations. 
  3. Chemical suppressants are used to chemically bind dust particles together preventing them from becoming airborne. Common chemicals used in dust suppression are polymers, bitumen emulsions, and other petroleum products. Global Road Technology’s liquid polymer, GRT5000 practically eliminates dust for up to 2 months. Mixed with water when sprayed onto surfaces, it soaks in and creates a stable, tough, durable layer resistant to traffic wear and other forms of soil erosion. 
  4. Respiratory protective equipment (RPE): Personal protective equipment, such as masks, respirators, and goggles, can help protect individuals from inhaling dust particles and can be used in industries where dust is a byproduct of the work being done. RPE should only be used as a last resort within the hierarchy of control measures since it only protects individual workers, prone to failure or misuse, giving employees a false sense of security. 
  5. Planting vegetation acting as windbreak: Vegetation such as grass, trees, and shrubs help reduce dust in the air by trapping dust particles in the air. The downside of planting vegetation is it can only act as a long-term solution and requires proper maintenance which can be hard to achieve for most businesses.
  6. Soil Stabilization: Stabilization of soil can be done mechanically by changing the grading of soil by mixing it with other types of soils of different grades and chemically through modification of soil properties by the addition of chemically active materials.  

Factors governing the effectiveness of chemical methods include the selection of materials, selection of roller, compaction effort, curing, sequence of operation, and environmental conditions. Global Road Technology has designed various cost-effective and biodegradable soil stabilization products such as BMX Durable Track Surfacing, GRT5000, GRT7000, GRT9000, and Polymer Cement Modifier. 

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Yang, Alexander & Tan, Qian & Rajapakshe, Chamara & Chin, Mian & Yu, Hongbin. (2022). Global premature mortality by dust and pollution PM2.5 estimated from aerosol reanalysis of the modern-era retrospective analysis for research and applications, version 2. Frontiers in Environmental Science. 10. 10.3389/fenvs.2022.975755.  

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Dahlgren JG, Talbott PJ. Lung cancer from asbestos textured ceilings: a case study. Int J Occup Environ Health. 2016 Apr;22(2):175-8. doi: 10.1080/10773525.2016.1162952. Epub 2016 Apr 21. PMID: 27097900; PMCID: PMC4984962. 

Domínguez-Rodríguez A, Báez-Ferrer N, Abreu-González P, Rodríguez S, Díaz R, Avanzas P, Hernández-Vaquero D. Impact of Desert Dust Events on the Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Clin Med. 2021 Feb 12;10(4):727. doi: 10.3390/jcm10040727. PMID: 33673156; PMCID: PMC7918944.