Environmental Impact of Asphalt Plants

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The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) has an interesting article about the environmental impact of asphalt plants on their website. While reading through this article, we thought some of the information would be useful, informative and interesting to our readers.

Most people outside of the pavement industry would likely balk at the idea of living next to or near an asphalt pavement mixing facility. Some of their concerns might include fears of hazardous materials, strong odors from plant emissions and heavy truck traffic . On the face of it, we can understand why residents might have these fears. Fortunately, they are unfounded and can be allayed with just a little bit of knowledge.

Health and Safety
The first step is understanding what an asphalt pavement mixing plant does. On a daily basis, these facilities mix the asphalt binder, a black viscous glue, with an aggregate, typically crushed rock, gravel and sand. The binder is a by-product of refining oil and is sometimes mixed with certain additives or chemicals to improve mix performance. These chemicals and additives are carefully monitored and regulated to meet EPA standards of environmental and health safety.

In addition to the sate and federal regulations on chemical additives, asphalt plants have strict emission controls to keep our communities safe from any environmental or health hazards. Over a decade ago, asphalt plant emissions were tested by the EPA and deemed to not be a major source of air pollution resulting in the facilities being delisted from their watch list.

Traffic and Safety
It’s true that there is a lot of heavy truck traffic coming and going from an asphalt pavement mixing facility. This is especially true in the summer months when road construction and repair reaches its peak each year. While there is never a 100% safety guarantee, communities can feel safe knowing that plants are typically located away from high population residential areas and are usually found near industrial or undeveloped areas to allow for easy ingress and egress of trucks into the plant and out to the construction sites.

Often, plant will pop up in temporary sites, close to a construction zone, allowing quick and easy deployment of asphalt paving materials. Once the construction or repairs are done, the sites can be taken down and reconstructed near the next project, eliminating the heavy truck traffic in that area.

For more information about asphalt paving and how the National Asphalt Pavement Association is improving asphalt paving technologies, visit asphaltpavement.org. You will learn about how this simple yet effective paving surface is improving the infrastructure of America while keeping environmental and health concerns a priority.