A real dust-up: Company disputes Nunavut minister’s characterization of its dust-suppression product
“It is critically important for people living in Nunavut to understand that salt/chloride-based products … are considered toxic,” writes Cypher Environmental president
As president of Cypher Environmental Ltd., the producer of the dust suppression product DustStop, I would like to correct some factual errors that appeared in the article “Nunavut community’s road to remain unpaved,” published on Oct. 28.
We at Cypher Environmental wanted to comment, since dust suppression has a bearing on the environment and on the people who live and work in Nunavut, as you mention in the article. We know that our product, DustStop, is both effective and safe, although the article implied the opposite.
Our successful commercial relationship with Baffinland Iron Mines Corp., who to date have used over one million litres of DustStop, bears this out. A recent Winnipeg Free Press article quoted Shawn Perry, Baffinland’s manager of road maintenance and site services, who said: “(DustStop) provided a drastic reduction in visible dust and it’s got greater durability to rain events than products we’ve used in the past.” Beyond Baffinland, we have successfully sold and applied DustStop in over 40 countries worldwide.
It was said in the legislative assembly by Lorne Kusugak, who was then Nunavut’s minister of community services, and reported in your article, that “the DustStop is one dust suppressant that was tried in the communities of Rankin Inlet, Arviat, Chesterfield Inlet, Coral Harbour, and Pangnirtung. The laying down of this suppressant in order for it to work is actually time-consuming and takes a bit more work than other suppressants that we have worked with the municipalities on. To that extent, the communities of Rankin Inlet and Arviat have chosen not to use this suppressant anymore and have gone back to the calcium chloride treatment that is a lot more user-friendly and works just as good, if not better than this one that they are finally testing in Pond Inlet.”
The current version of DustStop was developed and only made available to the market in 2017, which is when it was ordered by the communities of Rankin Inlet and Pangnirtung.
Pangnirtung’s hamlet officials continue to use and approve of DustStop as an effective dust suppressant and have committed to further orders of this product in 2021. With the other communities, we know that in one case the product was not tried, and in another, there was a lack of clarity around the correct application of the product, which led to a disappointing result.
We at Cypher feel it is critically important for people living in Nunavut to understand that salt/chloride-based products, that some of the communities quoted in your article are using, are considered toxic by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (Section 64, CEPA 1999). It is well known that calcium chloride and other road salts pollute groundwater, are toxic to roadside vegetation and highly corrosive to vehicles and other equipment using the treated road.
The small amount of extra time it takes to apply DustStop is vastly overweighed by the more efficient, and safer, results than salt. It takes approximately 10 percent longer to apply DustStop than chlorides. DustStop is simply made of sugar, starch, and minerals. To apply something this simple, this clean, and this non-toxic, is time well spent. It is also concentrated and easy to ship.
We have notified the newly-appointed minister that we would welcome government involvement as we hope to bring DustStop into Nunavut as a viable, cost effective, and safe solution to the pervasive and troubling issue of road and runway-related dust.
The upcoming project in Pond Inlet represents a donation from Cypher, in partnership with Baffinland and Nunavut Sealink & Supply Inc., both of whom covered substantial portions of the cost to organize the project and to ensure the safe delivery of DustStop during the 2020 Sealift. This will include the training of community technicians to effectively apply the product in 2021 and beyond.
As well, a recent distribution agreement signed with BBE Expediting Ltd., a prominent northern supplier, means that all DustStop will be sold through a company who has deep roots in Canada’s North, ensuring more profits of the goods used stay in the northern communities.
We at Cypher Environmental appreciate this opportunity to clarify misconceptions about the integrity of our product, DustStop. We believe it can make a real difference to the health and well-being of communities throughout the north.
Cypher Environmental Ltd.