Aquatic toxicity of chemical road dust suppressants to freshwater organisms

Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
By: , and 



Unpaved roads make up at least 14 million kilometers of the worldwide road network. Although investigations of road runoff often are focused on paved roads, unpaved roads contribute large volumes of runoff to roadside aquatic habitats and introduce unique constituents to runoff, such as chemical dust suppressants. At least 200 products across five chemical categories are commercially available for road dust suppression and are typically applied at rates up to 4.5 L/m2. Many of these products are poorly described and are lacking basic information on environmental transport, fate, and potential toxicity to roadside organisms. We characterized the aquatic toxicity of 27 commercially available dust control products, including 13 biobased products from the U.S. Department of Agriculture BioPreferred catalog, using juvenile rainbow trout. Acute toxicity varied by more than 1000-fold among products, with 96-h LC50 values ranging from 1.7 to > 16,000 mg/L. Toxicity was not well-predicted by product category. Testing with selected products after simulated weathering under UV radiation did not provide evidence of photoenhanced toxicity. Additional tests with freshwater mussels, juvenile crayfish, pond snails, and amphibian larvae indicated that juvenile rainbow trout were reasonable surrogates for these organisms for a subset of products. This effort represents one of the first comparative studies of dust suppressant toxicity and provides important information for assessing risk to aquatic resources from a widely used but understudied class of contaminants in road runoff.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Aquatic toxicity of chemical road dust suppressants to freshwater organisms
Series title Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
DOI 10.1007/s00244-020-00806-y
Volume 82
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 12 p.
First page 294
Last page 305
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