Is Asphalt Safe for the Environment?

Asphalt Paving Maintenance Company Grand Rapids, MI Contractors

Most of the time yes, asphalt is safe for the environment. But a simple answer doesn’t do justice because there are a lot of benefits to asphalt that don’t get talked about. For a rounded guide on how asphalt is made, asphalt’s effects on the environment, and what asphalt means for the future, keep reading. 

What Is the Lifetime of Asphalt? 

When it comes to road construction and maintenance, you may have a lot of ideas on how it works. When you see us tearing up stones and old asphalt on your local roads or the highway, it’s not so that we can get rid of old material. All of that material is actually reused to create future asphalt

Asphalt is a combination of rocks, sand, slag, and gravel. These are commonly known as aggregates. So, tearing up old roads isn’t a destruction process, but more of a reconstruction process. This also means that the longevity of asphalt goes far beyond when it was first laid to when it gets torn up. Asphalt can be recycled over, and over, and over as a completely reasonable substance that’s unlike anything else. 

Recycling asphalt is what helps make it environmentally friendly and environmentally stable. As a local asphalt company, we don’t have to harvest raw materials from the earth like gravel but instead can reuse and recycle to save on natural resources. 

Asphalt Heating and Mending Process

You might be wondering how asphalt gets bound together. This is by using a substance called bitumen, which is made by refining crude oil. 

Bitumen is extremely viscous, and it’s what traditionally gives asphalt it’s dark color. In a typical asphalt mix, bitumen makes up about 5% while the aggregates fill up the rest of the 95%. 

Asphalt can be mixed in three different ways, each of them requiring a different process but all of them having minimal environmental concerns.

  • Hot Asphalt Mixture: Known for their extreme durability, these mixes are often used in high traffic areas like highways and airports. 
  • Warm Asphalt Mixture: These are generally better for the environment and for workers because the temperature of them isn’t as extreme, which saves on heating costs and saves workers from proximity to high heats. 
  • Cold Mixtures: These are possible through a bitumen chemical reaction that doesn’t require heat. They’re most common for low traffic areas such as back roads, play courts, roofing, and walking trails. 

The EPA considers asphalt production a minor source of industrial pollution, and in some cases, construction projects can earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits by using asphalt. If you’re wondering how to earn extra LEED credits for your construction projects, check out our blog on How Asphalt Is Made >>

How Does Asphalt Effect Air, Water, and City Living?

Did you know that some water drinking reservoirs are layered in asphalt, just like some landfill caps, water pipelines, and lake beds? This is because asphalt doesn’t leach, making it a safe and impenetrable shield. 

The asphalt industry has also cut down on air pollution by 97%, while still increasing production by a whopping 250%. This even encompasses greenhouse gas effects! 

The more roads in an area have been known to heat cities, some call them urban heat islands. This issue is something we take into consideration as a Grand Rapids asphalt company. Although asphalt is not the main element that causes this, we plan for things like water runoff and proper drainage practices to help maintain quality living standards. 

Want to Know More About Asphalt?

If your curious about getting asphalt laid, head over to our blog page where we have tons of articles! If you’re looking to schedule an appointment, take advantage of our free estimate and also reach out and contact us online or by phone at (800) 871-4401. A-1 Asphalt Inc. has been proud to serve as a Grand Rapids, MI asphalt company for over thirty years, and we can’t wait to help you with your upcoming projects!