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Baby powder contains asbestos

An appellate court in Missouri upheld more than $2 billion in damages against Johnson & Johnson, saying the company knew there was asbestos in its baby powder.

“A reasonable inference from all this evidence is that, motivated by profits, defendants disregarded the safety of consumers,” the court said.
Credit…Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A Missouri appeals court on Tuesday ordered Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary to pay $2.1 billion in damages to women who blamed their ovarian cancers on the company’s talcum products, including its iconic baby powder.

The decision slashed by more than half a record award of $4.69 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to the women, which was made in July 2018.

Johnson & Johnson still faces thousands of lawsuits from consumers who claim its talcum products were contaminated with asbestos that caused cancer. The company announced last month that it would stop selling baby powder made from talc in North America, though it would continue to market the product elsewhere in the world.

A spokeswoman said Johnson & Johnson would seek further review of the ruling by the Supreme Court of Missouri and defended its talcum products as safe.

“We continue to believe this was a fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts,” Kim Montagnino, the spokeswoman, said. “We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos free and does not cause cancer.”

Mark Lanier, the lawyer who represented the plaintiffs, urged consumers to discard any baby powder they had in their homes. Six plaintiffs in the case died before the trial started, and five more women have died since the jury trial ended in 2018, he said.

Since this is a civil suit, “all you can do is fine them, and we need to fine them sufficiently that the industry wakes up and takes notice,” Mr. Lanier added.

In its decision, the appellate court noted that the company’s internal memorandums from as far back as the 1960s indicated that its talcum products — referred to as the “golden egg,” “company trust-mark” and “sacred cow” — contained asbestos, and that the mineral could be dangerous.

“A reasonable inference from all this evidence is that, motivated by profits, defendants disregarded the safety of consumers despite their knowledge the talc in their products caused ovarian cancer,” the court said.

The plaintiffs “showed clear and convincing evidence defendants engaged in conduct that was outrageous because of evil motive or reckless indifference,” the court said.

The court awarded $500 million in actual damages and $1.62 billion in punitive damages, reducing the original award of $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages after dismissing claims by some of the plaintiffs.

Johnson & Johnson has argued that faulty testing methods and shoddy science were responsible for findings of asbestos in its products. But thousands of people — mostly women with ovarian cancer — have sued, saying they were never warned of the potential risks.

The main ingredient in baby powder and many other bath powders was talc, a natural mineral known for its softness. Talc also helped lend baby powder its unique fragrance, said to be one of the most recognizable in the world.

In 1980, after consumer advocates raised concerns that talc contained traces of asbestos, an infamous carcinogen, the company developed an alternative powder made from cornstarch.

Though talcum powder has been promoted as soft and gentle enough for babies, and is sold with other infant products in stores, adult women have long been the main purchasers, using baby powder in pubic areas and to prevent chafing between the legs. Many women in hot climates use baby powder to stay dry.

Early lawsuits against the company pointed to talc as a cause of ovarian cancer, though the scientific evidence was not conclusive. In later cases, plaintiffs’ lawyers zeroed in on asbestos contamination as the culprit, saying the carcinogen could cause cancer even in trace amounts.

Talc is used in many cosmetic products, including lipstick, mascara, eye shadow, blush and foundation. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration issued several alerts warning that asbestos had been found in makeup, including eye shadow sold at Claire’s, a retailer popular with teenage girls.

Talc and asbestos are natural minerals, and their underground deposits develop under similar geological conditions. As a result, veins of asbestos may crisscross talc deposits in mines.

Indeed, internal memos unearthed during litigation revealed that Johnson & Johnson had been concerned about the possibility of asbestos contamination in its talc for at least 50 years. Asbestos was first linked to ovarian cancer in 1958, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer affirmed it was a cause of the cancer in a 2011 report.

As of March, Johnson & Johnson faced more than 19,000 lawsuits related to talc body powders. So far, the legal record has been mixed, with the company prevailing in some cases and losing in others. It is appealing nearly all of the cases it has lost.

Late last year, Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder after F.D.A. investigators said they had discovered asbestos in a bottle bought from an online retailer. But the company later said its own tests exonerated the product.

Johnson & Johnson is fending off lawsuits on other fronts as well, most notably ones related to opioids. In August 2019, an Oklahoma judge ruled that the company had oversold the benefits of the drugs while playing down the risks, and ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million in damages.

In October, in an unrelated case that involved the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, a Philadelphia jury ordered the company to pay $8 billion to a Maryland man who claimed he had been harmed by using the drug.

Johnson & Johnson is one of several companies racing to develop a vaccine to protect against the coronavirus. The company recently announced it would move up the start date for its safety trials in humans to the end of July. Johnson & Johnson has already signed deals with the federal government to create enough manufacturing capacity to make more than a billion doses of a vaccine, once it is found safe and effective.

“At some point there is a reputational question that mass tort cases bring, and they’re going to have to be concerned,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor who teaches about product liability at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

“They’ve built their entire reputation on being a family-friendly product producer,” Mr. Tobias said. “The classic example of that is talc, and the injuries these women suffered are severe.”

Proposed amendments to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality

In February 2020, the Ministry for the Environment released a suite of proposed amendments to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ). Standards currently exist under the NESAQ for particulate matter less than 10 micrometres in diameter (PM10) and wood burners. The proposed amendments include:

  • new ambient standards for particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5),
  • more stringent national wood burner design standards, and
  • new standards for mercury emissions to air.

The aim of these proposed amendments is to bring New Zealand’s current air quality standards in line with international standards, improve air quality and associated health effects.

The Ministry is currently seeking feedback on these proposed amendments. The consultation documents and related information are available on the Ministry’s Improving the quality of our air website. Submissions close at 5pm on 31st July, 2020.

Cleaner air during UK lockdown relieves asthma for millions

 A woman walks across an empty Deansgate in central Manchester in late April.

A woman walks across an empty Deansgate in central Manchester in late April. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Two million people in the UK with respiratory conditions such as asthma have experienced reduced symptoms during the coronavirus lockdown, according to the British Lung Foundation.

A survey by the charity of 14,000 people with lung conditions found one in six had noticed improvements in their health. Among children, the figure was higher, with one in five parents saying their child’s condition had been alleviated. Asthma sufferers in particular reported benefits, with one in four noting relief.

There is a well-established link between air pollution and lung disease. Of the 12 million people in the UK who live with conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, about 8 million have been diagnosed with asthma, of which 5.4 million are receiving treatment. 

The number of visits to hospital emergency departments for asthma in England have also fallen by half during lockdown, according to Public Health England data. But it is unclear how much of the decrease is due to a reduction in symptoms or people’s reluctance to visit hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zak Bond, of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Now, more than ever before, we have all become aware of how important it is to look after our lungs, and the government has a duty to ensure that as the country recovers from Covid-19, we can continue to keep air pollution levels down and keep pushing them lower.”

There is growing evidence from around the world linking increased Covid-19 infections and deaths to air pollution exposure. On Friday, a cross-party group of MPs said air pollution must be kept at low levels to help avoid a second peak of infections.

Bond called for the rapid introduction of clean air zones in cities, where charges deter the use of the most polluting vehicles. But these have been delayed in cities such as Manchester, with officials citing the need to focus on the coronavirus response. 

Bond said more support was needed for public transport, cycling and walking, and tougher air quality laws: “We want to see the government commit to reaching the World Health Organization’s guidelines for fine particulate matter by 2030 at the latest.”

How to solve the UK’s transport problem in the time of coronavirus – video

Each year, air pollution leads to tens of thousands of early deaths in the UK. More than a third of local authorities in England have levels of fine particle pollution above the WHO’s limit. Nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced largely by diesel vehicles, is at illegal levels in 80% of urban areas.

Stephen Holgate, Medical Research Council clinical professor of immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton, said: “As one of the biggest health problems of our time, air pollution has the potential to harm everyone. It is so important we take this opportunity to recognise the lived experiences of people with lung conditions and apply what we have learned from the impact of lockdown to build a future where we prioritise clean air.” 

The lockdown led to traffic falling to 1955 levels while both fine particle and NO2 pollution fell by up to half in cities. The British Lung Foundation survey found that more than 50% of people with lung conditions said they had noticed a decrease in air pollution since the start of lockdown.

One asthma sufferer, Paul, 14 from Liverpool, has often found it difficult to breathe, but has had to use his reliever inhaler a lot less during lockdown. “You can really feel the difference now,” he said. “I walk out, and I’m hit with clean air which is like a utopia compared to before.”

Dr Alison Cook, the chair of the Taskforce for Lung Health, a coalition of 30 organisations, said: “Children deserve to breathe cleaner air and to grow up in a country where their health is not put at risk by going outside.”

[Source: The Guardian 4 June 2020]

Building equity into the infrastructure-led recovery for Māori and Pasifika

This is a huge opportunity – and a wero – to demonstrate commitments to diversity, write sector engineers Troy Brockbank, Elle Archer, Sifa Pole and Sina Cotter Tait.

Aotearoa is awash with discussion on how we might re-imagine our post-Covid future; what could and should our economy and society look like? The budget announcement of infrastructure spend and training is an chance for the construction industry to develop specific, targeted actions for impact. As Māori and Pasifika engineers working in the construction and infrastructure sector, we’re calling on the industry to build equity into its response for Māori and Pasifika workers. It’s a huge opportunity – and a wero – for our government and industry to demonstrate their recent public commitments to the Diversity Accord.

The construction industry is headed into difficult times, with industry analysts predicting up to a third of jobs at risk. Māori and Pasifika workers are heavy lifters in the industry, over-represented in the lowest-earning tiers of the industry, and exposed to a disproportionate and inequitable share of the recessionary risks. The consequences of this are grim – loss of crucial income and wellbeing for Māori and Pasifika families and communities, with significant downstream effects for our already-marginalised communities. However, the prospect of a well-funded Infrastructure-Led recovery presents the construction industry with a unique opportunity to address these inequities faced by Māori and Pasifika communities in Aotearoa, and to advance its own goals towards a diverse and inclusive industry.

Elle Archer, Sina Cotter Tait, Troy Brockbank, and Sifa Pole

What should our industry be doing? The TL:DR

Five ideas for meaningful change:

  1. Expand the criteria for ‘Shovel-Ready Projects’ to consider how these projects will give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  2. Align priority work to the Wellbeing Budget Priorities, by adopting social procurement to select for firms offering employment to, and investing in, Māori and Pasifika workers
  3. Engage with, and increase Māori and Pasifika representation in industry leadership groups
  4. Rebalance the notoriously unfair risk carried by subcontractors and contract/casual labour through smart procurement and grounded risk allocation
  5. Ensure adequate accessibility to opportunities and career paths through innovative skills training and cross-industry partnerships.

What could it look like to consider Māori and Pasifika voices and values in the Covid-19 construction industry and infrastructure sector response?

This is a once in a generation opportunity to change how we think about our industry, calling for commitment, courage and long-term vision.

Project procurement is the most powerful lever our government has to effect change for Māori and Pasifika in the construction industry. Infrastructure New Zealand’s inclusion of social procurement as a guideline for the selection of “Shovel Worthy Projects” is excellent. We suggest also attaching well-considered diversity conditions to support Māori and Pasifika inclusion and representation, as a way of aligning with the Budget2020 priority. This isn’t as radical as it sounds – such conditions are becoming commonplace for other outcomes we value, such as environmental sustainability and gender diversity.

We don’t believe that our industry and our country can afford not to prioritise social outcomes in a nationwide recovery effort.

…As Minister Kris Fa’afoi has said: “We don’t succeed unless all of us succeed.” These words are resonant today. Protection of the construction industry must include our most vulnerable members and by extension our wider communities – and opportunities must be designed to be extended equitably to all. 

Abridged – Full article here:

Troy Brockbank (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi) is kaitohutohu matua taiao / senior environmental consultant; Elle Archer (Ngati Tamatera, Ngapūhi, Tuhoe) is a tech industry director and adviser; Sifa Pole (Pasifika-Tonga) is a professional engineer; Sina Cotter Tait (Pasifika-Samoa) is a chartered professional engineer and director.

The contributors acknowledge their identities as individual industry participants of Māori and/or Pasifika heritage, and do not claim to speak on behalf of a wider collective.

[Source: The Spinoff]

National Lockdown Emissions Drop

A small, silver lining on the COVID-19 cloud has been reductions in emissions of air pollutants as a result of nationwide lockdowns and the closure of international borders. In early March, NASA reported dramatic reductions in concentrations of nitrogen dioxide over China. Nitrogen dioxide is formed from the combustion of fossil fuels and is a useful indicator of emissions from transport and industry. Available ambient air quality monitoring data in New Zealand suggests similar reductions are occurring here.

Figure 1 below presents daily nitrogen dioxide concentrations measured in Takapuna in the first 20 days of lockdown which began on 26 March, with the previous (three-year average of) daily nitrogen dioxide concentrations for this period.1 The data show an average reduction of 58% in daily concentrations of nitrogen dioxide at Takapuna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Daily nitrogen dioxide concentrations at Takapuna during the first 20 days of lockdown (beginning 26 March 2020). [Source: Auckland Council]

 

The same analysis carried out for particulate matter less than 10 micrometres in diameter (PM10) shows a 42% reduction in daily PM10 concentrations in Takapuna.

Of interest, the average reduction in daily concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and PM10 has been significantly smaller at the Penrose monitoring station in Auckland (average reductions of 43% in daily nitrogen dioxide and 29% in daily PM10). This is most likely due to the presence of industry near the Penrose monitoring station which has continued to operate during the lockdown period.

A more simplistic comparison of daily concentrations 20 days before with 20 days after lockdown suggests similar reductions have also occurred in other cities in New Zealand. For example, available data2 show an average reduction of 41% in Wellington (Figure 2), and 56% in Christchurch (Figure 3), in daily nitrogen dioxide concentrations for the 20 days of lockdown compared with the 20 days prior.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2. Daily nitrogen dioxide concentrations at Willis Street, Wellington 20 days before and the first 20 days of lockdown (beginning 26 March 2020) [Source: Greater Wellington]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3. Daily nitrogen dioxide concentrations at St Albans, Christchurch 20 days before and the first 20 days of lockdown (beginning 26 March. 2020) [Source: Environment Canterbury]

 

We know that significant reduction in ambient levels of PM10 will reduce adverse health effects in mortality and morbidity. It is tempting to estimate the health benefits likely to be realised from lockdown as offsets to the impacts of COVID-19. However, other unforeseen adverse effects of the extreme measures taken to address covid-19 will also be realised. As noted by Anna Hansell, Professor in Environmental Epidemiology at the University of Leicester, there will also be impacts from “financial hardship and stress (we know that poverty increases risk and severity of chronic diseases and also death rates), adverse impacts of isolation of the elderly (impacting on their health in various ways) and impact of restrictions on access to healthcare for non-COVID-19 diseases. The latter are likely to have knock-on effects on mortality for several years after the pandemic”.3

In other words, it’s complicated.

 

     Postscript 1 May 2020: The (European) Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air estimated 11,000 air pollution-related deaths have been avoided in Europe as a result of lockdowns, but also noted:

     “Air pollution levels are plummeting as an unintended result of measures against the virus; this should not be seen as a ‘silver lining’, but it does show how normalised the massive death toll from air pollution has become, and points to what can be achieved if we shift to clean energy. When restrictions are fully lifted, European decision-makers can continue to implement policies to green electricity grids and transport systems in order to clear up our skies so we don’t return to heavy pollution.

     As we are all anxious for life and business to return to normal, no one is looking forward to the return of fossil fuel pollution. It is vital for European decision-makers to prioritise clean air, clean energy and clean transport as a part of the plans for recovering from the crisis.

     [Source: CRAE]

 

  1. Data have been annualised to compare the same days of the week (to account for known changes in traffic patterns at weekends). NB: Data have not been quality assured and should be treated with caution.
  2. Greater Wellington Regional Council and lawa.org.nz. NB: Data have not been quality assured and should be treated with caution.
  3. Science Media Centre, (2020). Expert reaction to drop in air pollution because of COVID-19. [Online: https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-drop-in-air-pollution-because-of-covid-19/] 24 March.

Auckland’s Air Quality 2006-2018

Auckland Council has published a report on long-term trends in Auckland’s air quality for the years 2006 – 2018.

The good news is that in most locations, both short-term and long-term PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations have decreased (Figure 1).

Similarly, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) shows marked decreases in concentration over the long-term. However, short-term trends in NO2 are starting to show increases in concentration at several sites near major roads.

Full report here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1     Theil-sen deseasonalised trends for PM10 at Takapuna (2006-2018)

Su is Volunteer of the Year!

For National Volunteer Week, the Reston Association is celebrating local do-gooders.

Roughly 1,400 individuals contributed 6,900 hours of volunteer time to community projects last year, according to the website. The Reston Association chose to recognise several individuals for their work in 2019 with the annual Reston Service Awards.

In 2019 Surekha contributed nearly 200 hours to the Reston Association and the Reston community. In addition to her work with Finance and Parks & Recreation, Surekha volunteers at many environmental events throughout the year. This work includes planting native trees and shrubs at Arbor Day and Earth Day events, tabling at the Nature Centre’s Spring Festival, inventorying wildlife at the Reston Association Bird Counts, and picking up litter at the Potomac River Watershed spring and fall clean ups. She supports several citizen science projects including monthly stream monitoring and weekly caterpillars count monitoring in spring and summer. She is an active member of the Environmental Advisory Committee, serving on the Litter Working Group and the Reston Annual State of the Environment Report Working Group. She is clearly committed to a more sustainable and beautiful Reston. She freely shares her time and talent during the week, weekends and evenings. She has even recruited her husband to volunteer (see photo).

Please join Reston Association (and Emission Impossible Ltd) in congratulating Surekha Sridhar, Volunteer of the Year.

[Abridged: Reston Association]

Air pollution linked to far higher Covid-19 death rates, study finds

Air pollution is linked to significantly higher rates of death in people with Covid-19, according to analysis.

The work shows that even a tiny, single-unit increase in particle pollution levels in the years before the pandemic is associated with a 15% increase in the death rate. The research, done in the US, calculates that slightly cleaner air in Manhattan in the past could have saved hundreds of lives.

Given the large differences in toxic air levels across countries, the research suggests people in polluted areas are far more likely to die from the coronavirus than those living in cleaner areas. The scientists said dirty air was already known to increase the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is extremely deadly and a cause of Covid-19-related deaths, as well as other respiratory and heart problems.

A separate report from scientists in Italy notes that the high death rates seen in the north of the country correlate with the highest levels of air pollution.

The scientists said their findings could be used to ensure that areas with high levels of air pollution take extra precautions to slow the spread of the virus and deploy extra resources to deal with the outbreak. Air pollution has already fallen because of widespread lockdowns, but the scientists said ensuring cleaner air in the future would help reduce Covid-19 deaths.

The study, by researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston,analysed air pollution and Covid-19 deaths up to 4 April in 3,000 US counties, covering 98% of the population. “We found that an increase of only 1μg/m3 in PM2.5 [particles] is associated with a 15% increase in the Covid-19 death rate,” the team concluded.

A small increase in exposure to particle pollution over 15-20 years was already known to increase the risk of death from all causes, but the new work shows this increase is 20 times higher for Covid-19 deaths.

“The results are statistically significant and robust,” they said. The study took account of a range of factors, including poverty levels, smoking, obesity, and the number of Covid-19 tests and hospital beds available. They also assessed the effect of removing from the analysis both New York City, which has had many cases, and counties with fewer than 10 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

“Previous work showed that air pollution exposure dramatically increased the risk of death from [the] Sars [coronavirus] during the 2003 outbreak,” said Rachel Nethery, one of the Harvard team. “So we think our results here are consistent with those findings.”

Xiao Wu, a fellow team member, said: “This information can help us prepare by encouraging populations [with high pollution exposure] to take extra precautions and allocate extra resources to reduce the risk of poor outcomes from Covid-19. It is likely that Covid-19 will be a part of our lives for quite a long time, despite our hope for a vaccine or treatment. In light of this, we should consider additional measures to protect ourselves from pollution exposure to reduce the Covid-19 death toll.”

The authors said the results highlighted the need to keep enforcing existing air pollution regulations, and that failure to do so could potentially increase the Covid-19 death toll. They noted that the US Environmental Protection Agency suspended its enforcement of environmental laws on 26 March.

The study is being fast-tracked for publication in a major medical journal.

Prof JonathanGrigg, from Queen Mary University of London, said the study was methodologically sound and plausible, but had some limitations, for example, important factors such as smoking were not measured at the individual level.

“Clearly, we urgently need more studies, since locally generated particle pollution will bounce back once the lockdown is eased,” he said.

The US has the third highest death toll to date, after Italy and Spain. A second study focusing on Italy, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, said: “We conclude that the high level of pollution in northern Italy should be considered an additional co-factor of the high level of lethality recorded in that area.”

It noted that northern Italy was one of Europe’s most polluted areas and that the death rate reported up to 21 March in the northern Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna regions was about 12%, compared with 4.5% in the rest of Italy.

“It is well known that pollution impairs the first line of defence of upper airways, namely cilia, thus a subject living in an area with high levels of pollutant is more prone to develop chronic respiratory conditions and [is more vulnerable] to any infective agent,” it said.

Medical scientists warned in mid-March that air pollution exposure could make Covid-19 worse. Early research on Covid-19 had suggested that the weakened lungs of smokers and former smokers made them more susceptible to the virus.

While lockdowns have caused air pollution to fall dramatically, a comprehensive global review published in 2019 found that over long periods air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body.

[Source: The Guardian]

VW installed ‘defeat devices’ to subvert emissions tests, UK high court finds

Judge makes major ruling in mass ‘dieselgate’ litigation against VW in England and Wales

VW badge
Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

The car manufacturer Volkswagen subverted key air pollution tests, a British court has found, by using special software to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides under test conditions.

The high court finding is a boost to attempts by campaigners to force the company to address the impact of its cars in producing lung-damaging pollutants at far higher levels than were legally permissible.

A group of about 91,000 claimants is taking Volkswagen to court in one of the biggest “class action” cases, or group litigation orders, yet to be heard in England and Wales. Although Volkswagen has been found guilty in the US, in Europe the carmaker has denied that it cheated tests.

The preliminary finding in the case on Monday, by Mr Justice Waksman, casts a fresh light on the activities of the carmaker, first revealed in the “dieselgate” scandal of 2015.

In his summary, the judge wrote: “[After considering the arguments made by Volkswagen] the upshot was that I found that the software function in the vehicles here did indeed amount to a prohibited ‘defeat device’… I also concluded that VW’s attempt to relitigate the issue here was an abuse of the process.”

He said: “A software function which enables a vehicle to pass the test because (artificially) it operates the vehicle in a way which is bound to pass the test and in which it does not operate on the road is a fundamental subversion of the test … it destroys the utility of the test.”

[Source: The Guardian]

Dust suppression for 50 Far North roads

Far North District Council has reached agreement with forestry companies to mitigate dust on 50 of their dustiest roads.

The agreement will see dust suppression compounds applied to sections of 50 unsealed roads in the District, providing relief to residents of more than 160 homes worst affected by road dust.

The deal with Hancock Forest Management, Summit Forests New Zealand, and Northland Forest Managers shares the cost with the Council of applying dust suppression compounds on rural roads.

General Manager – Infrastructure and Asset Management Andy Finch says the deal with forestry companies was facilitated by the Northland Transportation Alliance and followed a meeting with community representatives and local iwi affected by dust on unsealed roads.

“Forestry is a very important economic activity for the District, but it impacts heavily on our roads and on residents who live close to key forestry routes. This voluntary contribution from forestry companies acknowledges the industry’s contribution to road dust problems and demonstrates a willingness to offset the cost to ratepayers.”

Dust suppression compounds are a temporary solution for controlling road dust and are sprayed onto the road surface at the beginning of summer. The compounds bond with road dust but do not make the road surface slippery.

While it is significantly cheaper than tar sealing roads, dust suppression compounds have a short lifecycle of around three months, depending on traffic volumes and the impact of wet weather. Treated sections of road are not graded to prolong the life of the product.

Road were selected for treatment based on their ranking in road sealing priority matrix developed by the Council. This uses transparent criteria to fairly and consistently rank all roads across the district for road sealing or dust suppression.

[Source: FNDC, 18 Dec 2019]