Road dust control & chickens
June 13, 2013 5:43 PM   Subscribe

It's just after 5:00 here, and I noticed a temporary speed limit sign posted in my alley by the local dust control business, with an 800 number. I assume one of my neighbors hired them to treat our dusty alley. Of course they're closed now, so I won't know until morning what specific product they're planning to apply. I'm concerned because my chicken coop directly abuts the alley. I'd like to be a little more knowledgeable on this subject by morning. Details within.

My concerns are about 1) danger to my chickens while the stuff is being applied, and 2) danger to my chickens when the stuff inevitably stops working and the dust becomes airborne again, along with whatever they applied. I know in the bad old days they used to spread used motor oil and then all the shit that was in that, the lead and whatever else, would become airborne once the dust controlling effect wore off. So although the new products sound better, I'm still a bit skeptical. Do any of you know more about this than I do? Are any of the products listed below especially safe or dangerous, especially to the touchy respiratory systems of birds?

According to their web site, the products they use are:

Road Coat V.O. (vegetable oil)
Liquid Asphalt (some kind of dilute asphalt with magnesium and calcium chloride)
Dus-Top (magnesium chloride brine)
Envi-Rox 2000 (ponderosa pine resin)
Ligno (wood sugars and lignin polymer)
posted by HotToddy to Science & Nature (3 answers total)
It sounds like they are mostly spreading water attracting agents (the salts and wood fiber) and binding agents (to bind the dust). The only thing I'd be concerned about is the liquid asphalt, mostly because I don't know what that is.

One thing to watch for when they use a lot of water attracting (around here they spread psyllium husks) is that it gets god-awful slippery when it does rain.

Keep in mind that road dust itself can be pretty harmful, it's basically very finely ground rock that gets more finely ground over time and stays suspended in the air for a long time. There are places with a lot of naturally occurring asbestos, for example, where the road dust has been shown to have harmful levels of asbestos. It can also clog filtration systems and exacerbate asthma etc. And these days it's impossible to get people to drive slowly on dirt. Dust control, as with most things, is a trade off.
posted by fshgrl at 12:01 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

You say you suspect they were hired by a neighbor. If this alley is a public road, your local road department might well have a problem with that; municipalities generally don't like private meddling in road maintenance.
posted by werkzeuger at 5:13 PM on June 14, 2013

They used the Ligno, which turned out to be pretty benign-seeming, and they ended up not doing it directly behind my house anyway, as the neighbor paid to have only his part of the alley done. So the chickens are happy and so am I. Thanks!
posted by HotToddy at 12:45 PM on June 18, 2013

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