What are the environmental impacts from dust?
Environmental costs are often difficult to quantify. To date, the US has focused primarily on health issues (see Chapter 1, Managing Dust on Unpaved Roads and Airports). Consequently, most of the knowledge of environmental impacts beyond health has been developed by the World Bank, South Africa, Brazil and other countries in Africa.
From research down by these entities, we have learned that traffic generated dust has a significant impact on agriculture. While much information is anecdotal, studies in South Africa and New Zealand has indicated that dust was coating fruit 250-300 meters (820-984+ ft) away from the roadway. Correspondingly US reports have shown that dust increases the mite population on watermelon plants indicating that dust inhibits the effectiveness of insecticides.
Dust may also degrade water quality near gravel roads. Looking at the few studies conducted in the US, development of algae in some lakes increased due, in part, to dust.
It is hoped that time will see additional studies that will help further quantify ecological and environmental impacts.
More information coming soon!