The American way of life as we know it would not be possible without the stone, sand and gravel produced by the aggregates industry. From roads and bridges to paint, pharmaceuticals and cleaning products, aggregates play a vital role in our daily lives...
Every human life
Each American uses about 10 tons of aggregates every year. Stone, sand and gravel are essential for daily living. Aggregates are essential to maintaining the quality of American life because…
They are a major part of the roadways and bridges we take to work and school.
They are the foundations and building blocks for our homes, schools and hospitals.
They are involved in the manufacture of everyday products like paper, glass, medicines, and fertilizer.
In our homes
It takes 400 tons of aggregates to construct the average modern home. Aggregates are present from the concrete in the foundation all the way up to the shingles on the roof—and everywhere in between, like the wallboard, tile, glass and plaster.
The use of aggregates is not limited to the home, itself. Stone, sand and gravel go into the production of household products such as cleansers, cosmetics, toothpaste and chewing gum.
Our roads to school and work
Aggregates are the main components in the roads and highways we travel on every day.
They make up 94% of asphalt pavement and 80% of concrete,
and it is estimated that it takes 38,000 tons of aggregates to construct just one lane-mile of a four-lane interstate highway.
Aggregates are also used in…
Railroad beds for our trains
The construction of our airports
Bridges and tunnels
Aggregates make it possible for us to travel safely, quickly and efficiently to our destinations.
Aggregates help the environment
There are many environmental uses and benefits of stone, sand and gravel to protect the environment. Rocks are used for erosion control and slope protection, dams and protecting shorelines and navigation channels.
Aggregates help clean the air, too, in flue gas desulfurization of smokestacks and reduction of sulfur dioxide using limestone.
They also are used in water filtration, sewage control, wastewater control and drinking water purification.
The Cities We Work In
Aggregates make our cities possible. We use aggregates to build cities with structures so tall we call them skyscrapers. Aggregates line the tunnels of our subways and are used to make our sidewalks.
We light up our cities with hydroelectric dams like the Hoover Dam, built with 4.5 million cubic yards of aggregates.
And crushed stone, sand and gravel are used by water and sewer facilities for filtration in water purification and sewage treatment to help keep our cities safe and clean.
Visit the Smithsonian Rocks Gallery
If you are in Washington, D.C., visit The Rocks Gallery at the renowned Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Located in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals, The Rocks Gallery is an up-close, interactive exhibit that demonstrates the use of rocks in everyday life and their importance to society. The Rocks Gallery was made possible by a gift from The Rocks Build America Foundation
The Rocks Build America Foundation
The Rocks Build America Foundation was established in October 1998 to solicit, collect and distribute donations underwriting the installation of The Rocks Gallery in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The mission is to promote knowledge and public interest in the aggregates and pulverized mineral industries. Through research, educational resources, providing scholarships and promoting careers, The Rocks Build America Foundation develops the future of the aggregates industry for generations to come.