Soil Erosion Magazine: Dust Control

dust control orovilleIt was February when the problems started. Just north of Sacramento, nestled among outdoor recreation areas, the Oroville Dam started falling apart. The world’s tallest dam’s main spillway partially collapsed; dam managers started using an emergency spillway that sent water down a bare hillside, which quickly eroded. As 200,000 people were evacuated downstream with more rain on the way, a problem with dust probably wasn’t on the minds of the folks at the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).

But on March 16, the Los Angeles Times reported that air and soil analysis at the Oroville dam site, where debris was being removed, revealed one of the most dreaded airborne particulates out there: cancer-causing asbestos. Naturallyoccurring asbestos is not uncommon in California, but still, the state was obliged to produce dust-control measures, to protect workers at the site and residents in the area who may be affected. News releases from the dWR indicated that they were using water, at least at first, to keep the dust down. Methods included wetting the soil with water trucks and things like washing the trucks and truck tires on the vehicles used at the site.

Click here to read the full article regarding dust control

Our Own Chris Rider Featured in Soil Erosion & Hydroseeding Magazine

Chris Rider was featured prominently in the March/April edition of Soil Erosion & Hydroseeding Magazine. The article, “A Sticky Business” is an in-depth conversation regarding tackifiers and how to properly and responsibly take control of the earth causing potential difficulty within the environmental confines of your project.

Read it here:

DustLess® – Why It Works & How it Works

The least expensive dust control method is DustLess® One needs to know the capabilities and functionality of the product to be properly informed.

DustLess® does not function like water or chlorides

Water surrounds individual soil and/or dust particles, thus “floating” the individual particle. When a particle is floated by application of water, there is a space in between each soil particle (a space filled with a microscopic amount of water). If enough water is applied to eliminate all dust, then every soil particle is separated by water. This separation reduces friction because the particles no longer touch the adjacent particle directly. This phenomenon commences immediately upon reaching optimum moisture content (OMC) in the soil. Once you exceed OMC even by a very small percentage, you have mud. If you do not reach OMC, then you do not have complete dust control. Wetted soil sticks to wheels and equipment etc., it tracks, it has low coefficient of friction, and it immediately begins to dry out (all bad things). This procedure, using water as dust control, provides a very short effective life span and needs continuous re-applications to create at best, modest dust control that is constantly changing in effectiveness.

Chlorides work by drawing moisture out of the air thus dampening the soil. Same problem as water, not enough chlorides and you do not have complete dust control. Too much chloride and you have hard and soft spots in the soil, some area over treated and some areas undertreated. Any amount of chloride and you have corrosion of vehicles and equipment, you have health issue of breathing in dried, chloride soils the control goes away. Chlorides require several applications per year. Chloride applications are only effective if there is substantial moisture/humidity in the air. A heavy rain event washes away chloride dust control requiring reapplication. Continual use of salts (chlorides) over extended periods of time, kills adjacent vegetation, and pollutes ground water.

DustLess® works differently

It is specially formulated to absorb into the individual soil particles rather than surround and “float” the particle as does water. By absorbing in and not surrounding the particle, the individual particles remain in direct contact with each other keeping the soil surface firm, good coefficient of friction (traction), no stickiness, thus no tracking. The product is not alkaline, is not acidic, it is non-corrosive and non-hazardous. Effective dust control lasts for about one year. Watering is never required. Climate or humidity are not factors. It does not wash away or dilute in rain events. Reapplications after the initial application are done at a much lower rate to renew highly effective, long lasting control.

DustLess® application is more cost effective, more effective, and is always better from a health point of view. All of this with no negative environmental issues and no corroded equipment.

Understanding Dust Control on Equestrian Arena Footing

ArenaKleen® works very well with all types of riding arena footing such as sand, stone dust, fine processed screened gravel, and all of the various blends that include the previous as well as many of the fiber products such as rubber, leather, wood, and blends.

The following is a bit of “dust education” to help make an informed decision:

When all things are considered, proper dust control in riding arenas is not expensive – it is cost effective.

Most importantly one needs to understand that the DUST is only the SYMPTOM of the PROBLEM.

People say that you cannot buy health at any price but silicosis is not a joke and ArenaKleen® will absolutely eliminate the dust, which has a very high potential for silicosis in the volumes created in an indoor hall, or outdoor riding ring with several horses moving around.

Using (chlorides) salt on the footing actually deteriorates the footing faster. Water also has negative effects on footing.

First one must understand what is creating the dust to better understand what is happening and why ArenaKleen® actually saves money in the long run.

  • Properly formulated new footing is not just dirt or sand; it is actually processed, coarse sand, (traction), stone dust (for strength, stability, firmness), and sometimes different types of fiber (wood, leather, rubber, etc. – to minimize compaction).
  • Properly formulated footing costs a lot of money. Actually even non-formulated footing costs a fair amount of money.
  • As the horses move over the surface, they pound the individual particles that make up the footing. They pound them together and churn them up. This causes the individual particles to wear, fracture, chafe and break.
  • This wearing of the particles produces additional “fines.”
  • The fines act as sandpaper and wear the footing even faster. It is an ever-increasing vicious cycle.
  • While salt initially attracts moisture giving temporary dust control and a false sense of accomplishment, the salt over time is actually drying the soil particles and causes the cycle of particle breakup/wear even faster plus the dried particles of salt are themselves unhealthy to breath in.
  • If water is used for dust control the water floats the soil particles, oftentimes this creates soft spots and in some cases even mud or slippery spots and it does not last very long before drying out requiring reapplication. Thus the footing when watered does not maintain any consistency but is constantly changing.ArenaKleen® special formulation allows it to:
    • Absorb into the particles rather than just coating the outside like the water.
    • Lubricate the particles so that they chafe less and thus wear more slowly helping topreserve footing longer all the while eliminating the symptom, the dust.
    • Stay with the particle for many, many months.

ArenaKleen® inherent long life means that:

  • Each retreatment will come at intervals further and further apart.
  • The amount needed will be less and less because all of the soil particles gradually become treated.

The footing material last longer before replacement or partial replacement is needed. This in itself is a huge savings what with the cost of quality footing and the cost of trucking and equipment to put it in place.Think about the health of your horse – they breathe in 300 times the air that humans breathe; imagine the amount of dust that they inhale! Besides the health issues to you and your horse, you may also want to consider aesthetics. If your stable looks clean, neat, and dust free people notice. It can generate more business because people enjoy riding where it looks and is cleaner. The tack stays cleaner, clothing stays cleaner; even the horse stays cleaner.

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To conclude, it may be possible with some footing materials (particularly when new or freshly installed) to use less than the recommended amount of ArenaKleen® An educated consumer will understand that the dust is just the symptom of the underlying issues that creates the dust in the first place. They will realize where the problem comes from. They will realize that different footing combinations, depths, and age affect how a dust abatement product or dust abatement program will perform. ArenaKleen® will always perform much better and for much longer than the alternatives. Typically, it will last 8 – 15 months for an initial application. Subsequent applications build up in the footing material and gradually less ArenaKleen® will be required to renew the dust controlling effect. Subsequent applications should last as long or longer and as explained above will use less and less product each time a renewal application is applied. If a proper treatment program is instituted, the treated riding area should never have dust, the footing should be very consistent, the footing should never compact, should never freeze, and the life span of the material that makes up the footing in the arena should be good for as long as possible. Absorbent fibers (if incorporated into the footing material) will necessitate higher initial application rates to meet the fiber’s absorbance factor.

Dust is Done For

Environmentally sound product leaves an arena expert happily surprised. 

By Brian McNeil, E=MC Equestrian Arenas, Inc.

To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, “Out, out, damn dust!”

California equestrians see, breathe and endure dust, and our horses continue to pay the price.

Working throughout North America with equestrian owners, trainers and facility managers, I am constantly asked to make sure-fire recommendations for dust control for arenas, showgrounds, barn aisles and round-pens/turn-outs. Until recently, the solutions were short-term and less than environmentally sound and economically practical. Even with high-end sprinkler systems, water wheels, magnesium chloride, misting systems, water tanks or careful manure-removal management, dust would win out in the end.

A few years ago, I got into a heated telephone conversation with a manufacturer who claimed that his product could control all dust present in an arena for up to nine months. I doubted that. He said his product worked without chlorides (salts). Without water. And without any environmental risks or impact on horse and rider.

Having previously installed thousands of gallons of liquid magnesium chloride over the years, with adequate but short-term effectiveness, I finally asked one of my best clients to try this organic witches’ brew, this mysterious non-toxic liquid formula. It worked! And kept working. And it did not alter the feel of the footing, get crusty or, most remarkably, wash out of the footing when it rained.

My irritation with Dirt Glue Enterprises, the environmental products manufacturer of this product, ArenaKleen® grew out of my own disbelief that their claims were valid. I was proved wrong. Trainers working in dust-bowl arenas now tell me that it works. Owners in Carmel, in Pleasanton, in Orangevale, tell me that it works. No more dust on arena mirrors, on horizontal surfaces, on cars parked near the arena and, most especially, no more dust entering the respiratory systems of their horses and riders.

I have never been so pleased to be wrong in my assumptions.

How It Works

Unlike other liquids that suppress dust by coating the sand/dust particles, ArenaKleen® is absorbed into the sand/dust particles at a molecular level. Both non-corrosive and non- exothermic (it does not generate heat like calcium chloride does), the material does not wash off of the footing, even with heavy rains or waterings used to maintain footing density. It does not freeze – a plus for our northern riders. Of greatest significance to riders, it does not alter the feel of the existing footing. It just gets rid of the “damn dust!” As California continues to grow, two realties are emerging: we are running short of water; and equestrian facilities once set in isolated and private locales are now trying, and failing, to co-exist with suburban neighbors who don’t want their air-conditioner’s filters clogged with arena dust.

DirtGlue Enterprises/ ArenaKleen® now distributes throughout North and Central America, and is available world-wide. The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto has used ArenaKleen® for the past two years to control arena dust, while promoting the Fair as a “green” environment for its international equestrian events. Vendors love it: no dust on the $4,000 saddles. The facility loves it: no water trucks! Lady Macbeth would have loved it, too.

Author Brian McNeil is the owner of E=MC Equestrian Arenas, Inc., which designs, installs and consults for equestrian clients throughout North America. Recently completed installations include arenas in Los Gatos, Pleasanton and Orangevale, CA. With over 150 installations since 1997, E=MC Equestrian Arenas approaches all projects with this single criterion: It’s All About the Horse!

For more information, visit, call (561) 723-4538 or email Brian at