Dust Suppression
verb: the application of liquid to restrict the airborne dissemination of fine particles.

What is Dust Suppression?

Dust suppression is the application of liquid to restrict the airborne dissemination of fine particles.

Very commonly, this involves using strategically-placed atomising nozzles to spray a fine mist of water and surface active agents to capture airborne dust particles and bring them to the ground. Some dust suppressants are applied topically to sources of fly-away dust, preventing the dust from becoming airborne.

Why Do I Need Dust Suppression?

Dust kills people!

If we were to inform you that over 13,000 deaths occurred in Great Britain in 2018 as a result of current or past employment, and asked you to guess the most common cause, you may well guess that it is slips, trips and falls, or collisions with forklifts or other vehicles.  Yes, these high-profile workplace accidents are often devastating and are much publicised by the news, which may explain why they are at the forefront of your mind.

However, it is estimated that between 100 and 150 workers are killed in work-related accidents in Great Britain each year, which includes slips trips and falls.  While occupational lung diseases account for around 12,000 of the 13,000 total deaths estimated to be linked to past exposures at work.  So more than 90% of all deaths occurred as a result or current or past employment are linked to exposure to dust.


An estimated 12,000 lung disease deaths in Great Britain each year are thought to be linked to past exposures at work, primarily from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), non-asbestos related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.


An estimated 20,000 new cases of breathing or lung problems in Great Britain are thought to be caused or made worse each year on average over the last 3 years according to self-reported estimates from the Labour Force Survey.

The Different Types of Dust

There are 2 main categories of dust:

adjective: Relating to or derived from living matter.

For example: Much of the dust found in homes, offices and indoor public places consists of dead skin, pollen, dust mites and insects - all of which are examples of organic matter.

Query feverhistoplasmosis and psittacosis are all diseases caused by breathing in organic matter infected by specific microorganisms.

Below are some examples of pneumoconiosis caused by organic dust:

Organic Dust

Type of Disease

Lung Reaction

Mouldy Straw/Hay

Farmer's Lung



Bird Fancier's Lung


Mouldy Sugar Cane



Compost Dust

Mushroom Worker's Lung

No Fibrosis

Dust or Mist

Humidifier Fever

No Fibrosis

Heat-Treated Sludge

Sewage Sludge Disease

No Fibrosis

Mould Dust

Cheese Washers' Lung

No Fibrosis

Animal Skin, Hair Particles and Rat Urine

Animal Handlers' Lung

No Fibrosis

adjective: Not consisting of or deriving from living matter.

For example: Much of the dust found in construction, quarrying, mining, materials handling and general industry is organic matter. This dust also migrates or gets tracked into homes, offices and public areas.

Silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are all diseases that can be caused by breathing in inorganic matter.

Below are some examples of pneumoconiosis caused by inorganic dust:

Inorganic Dust

Type of Disease

Lung Reaction




Silica (Quartz)




Coal Pneumoconiosis



Beryllium Disease


Tungsten Carbide

Hard Metal Disease




No Fibrosis



No Fibrosis



No Fibrosis

Fibrosis is the thickening and scarring of connective tissue.

How Can I Suppress Dust?

The most common dust suppressant is water, but there are other liquids and additives to water that can be used to 'capture' airborne dust or create a temporary or permanent 'cap' on dusty material to prevent dust fly-away.

Dust Suppression Using Water

When using water, whether on its own or with an additive such as a surface active agent, there are a number of different methods of suppressing dust.  These range from the manual tractor and bowser method, through to a fully automated air atomising system that is turned on or off electronically by a specific event such as a door opening.

There are a number of differences between these extremities.

One is a manual operation requiring the constant input of a person while the other can be turned on and left, or automated to turn on when a specific event triggers an electric switch.

The tractor and bowser method is also applying the dust suppressant to the body of material to restrict the smaller particles being carried off into the air, while the air atomising system involves a dust suppressant being applied to the surrounding air in order to return the airborne particles to the ground.

There is also a big difference between the size of the water particles.  Air atomisation enables tiny particles or water, which increases the number or droplets and reduces the surface tension of the water.  This means when the water droplets collide with the dust particles, instead of the dust bouncing off the 'skin' of the water, they merge and the increased weight of the dust particle causes it to fall to the ground.

The tractor and bowser method also requires a lot of water.  Outdoor dust suppression during hot weather can require about 4 litres or 1 gallon of water per square metre per day.  This means 100 square metres would use about the same amount of water as a family of four.  Air atomising systems, on the other hand, would use a lot less water.

Each method is more applicable to different applications and one cannot necessarily be switched for another.

Dust Suppression Using Surface Treatments

 With new technologies evolving all the time, other products are being created that do a better job than water in certain situations.

The challenge with water is the fact that when it evaporates, the product returns to its former dusty self.  In sunny weather this becomes a significant issue because thousands of litres of water can be dispensed on a product, only to evaporate a few hours later.

To counteract this issue, dust suppression products are now available that don't evaporate and continue to suppress dust 6 months after they have been applied.

Other products have also been developed to suppress dust in ways that water can't, such as creating a crust over the top of the product or by gluing the particles together to prevent fly away dust.

Related Blog Articles

What Can I Use to Suppress Dust?

Installed Dust Suppression Systems

Installed systems consist of 2 main components: a control panel and a line of nozzles.

The control panels require both power and water and come in either an Eco or Premier model.  For a simple on/off system, an Eco control panel will provide excellent dust suppression in almost any situation.  For optional extras, such as timers, multiple channels and frost thermostats, a Premier control panel will provide you with the bells and whistles you need.

The line of nozzles can be installed in a number of different ways and on almost any surface.  Each nozzle is carefully located near the source of any dust emissions.

Localised Mobile Dust Suppression

Mobile dust suppression is required when either water or power isn't readily available, or you just need to regularly move the equipment to follow the source of the dust.

The 3 options below will provide small to medium-scale dust suppression and will require less water than the medium to large-scale options.

Widespread Mobile Dust Suppression

Likewise, these mobile dust suppression options are required when either water or power isn't readily available, or you just need to regularly move the equipment to follow the source of the dust.

These medium to large-scale options will use more water than the small to medium-scale options and can be used to suppress a lot more dust using a single unit.

Topically-Applied Dust Suppressants

DustLess is an alternative to using water and will dramatically reduce the number of times that dust suppression is required in certain situations.

SubZero Antifreeze can be dosed into any of the above products when dust suppression with water is required during subzero temperatures.