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Airborne dust suppression is of critical importance to military operations conducted in desert environments. Airborne dust is commonly generated in the desert by surface and near-surface operations during operational, testing, and training missions. Currently, there is no standardized procedure for testing dust suppressants, and the U.S. military lacks a specific test operations procedure (TOP) designed to provide realistic testing of the performance and durability of commercial products sold for dust abatement. The primary purpose of this study is to provide recommendations for the future development of a TOP for testing dust suppressants applied to desert soils. Recommendations were developed from the evaluation of a polyvinyl-based synthetic polymer as a dust suppressant, which was tested at four test intervals over a 19–week period in the late spring and summer of 2008 at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. The dust suppressant was applied at three separate test sites having different surface characteristics and soil properties ranging from loose, sandy gravel to gravelly sand, alluvial-fan soils to soft, sandy-silt, alluvial-plain soils. Each test site was subjected to a variety of traffic impact types consisting of an increasing number of cumulative passes by different vehicle types—including a low-flying helicopter, a light-weight armored tracked vehicle, and heavy-, medium-, and lightweight wheeled vehicles, plus pedestrian foot traffic. In addition to the sites of traffic impact, three types of control plots were concurrently tested to act as reference sites, as well as to evaluate the longevity of the suppressant, which included: disturbed and static (undisturbed) baseline plots and a static benchline plot. Surface soil and dust-suppressant physical properties were measured following each traffic impact in the form of shear strength and bearing capacity, plus dust-emission flux as measured by a Portable In Situ Wind ERosion Laboratory (PI-SWERL). Results from this study show that dust-emission flux and surface-strength measurements from a layout of control and traffic impact test plots provide a quantifiable and repeatable approach in measuring the efficacy of a dust suppressant for a TOP used by the U.S. Army.

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