A typical construction and demolition (C&D) recycling facility is no stranger to dust or odors. The two are so familiar that government entities, like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and municipal bodies, have regulated dust and odor at C&D sites for the health and safety of employees and area residents.
But for Lautenbach Industries, Mount Vernon, Washington, regulations were not the main driver behind their dust mitigation efforts. The driver was employee, customer and visitor safety.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Troy Lautenbach, co-owner of Lautenbach Industries, says. “Who wants to work in dusty conditions, and who wants to visit a facility and have dust coming out of your eyes, nose and mouth after? It’s a safety issue, as well. We spend a great deal of time making sure that we have our best management practices in place.”
UPGRADING FOR COMFORT
Lautenbach Industries was started as T&T Recycling in 1991 by brothers Troy and Torrey Lautenbach. At T&T, the brothers mainly recycled drywall into bedding for dairy cattle. In 1999, the brothers began hauling comingled C&D debris and renamed the company Lautenbach Industries.
Now, according to its website, the company houses 50 employees, owns 10 roll-off trucks, four live floor trailers, four excavators, more than 200 roll-off boxes and a large fleet of additional equipment and vehicles.
Currently, crewmen at Lautenbach use mist nozzles on garden hoses to water down dust on-site. David Bader, a contract employee from Environmental Health Services LLC, Bellingham, Washington, who handles all the health, safety and regulatory aspects of Lautenbach Industries, says a pressure-watering truck is used in the yard for dust control, while dust is manually hosed in the tip building. Lautenbach crews also use a sweeper with a misting system attached to it to suppress dust while sweeping the driveways.
This process is set to change, however, as Lautenbach plans to install a misting system from Big Fogg, Temecula, California, with the goal of staving off manual labor and increasing efficiency.
“If we have someone standing there holding a hose, spraying down things, they’re going to be able to cover one area while the system can cover multiple areas,” Lautenbach says. “Not only is [the upgrade needed] from an economic standpoint, you’re looking at a more efficient system.”
Another aspect considered in Lautenbach’s upgrade is safety, or as Lautenbach and Bader say, “employee and customer comfort.”
“For the most part, we are an industrial site, and the people that come here are in the industry. A little dust isn’t a big deal,” Bader says. “But our employees are here, and the particulates are floating around. Our operators wear PPE (personal protective equipment), such as rag masks, double-stringed dust masks and eye protection. If you can reduce the amount of dust all around, it will have the least amount of impact on them.”
Bader says Lautenbach wants to avoid exposing customers who offload debris in the yard to any more dust than necessary.
The main portions of the facility that create dust and need a suppression system are the C&D debris sorting line and wood grinding operations. Any exposed surfaces, such as driveways, are also regularly cleared of dust. “It’s an ongoing focus on maintenance and housekeeping, if you will,” Bader says.
Lautenbach Industries connected with Big Fogg after Bader researched misting systems on the internet and spoke with other facilities.
“When it came to Big Fogg, I saw their ads, went online and submitted an inquiry and they got back to me,” Bader says. “They said they worked with a facility in Seattle, and I know those guys, they gave a positive recommendation. So, I told Big Fogg what I wanted, they gave me the parts and pieces and put it together.”
The system cost around $5,000, plus installation to implement, he says, and will be used several times per day while it’s dry and windy during the fall and summer.
“Having something with misting capabilities that will mitigate dust particles and not affect the people down below is what I’m looking for,” Bader says.