Water sprays have been commonly used to suppress airborne dust. Water is doped with surface-active agents to enhance the dust capture efficiency through a reduction of surface tension. Nevertheless, dust collection efficiencies have been less than satisfactory historically. A detailed characterization of freshly generated airborne dust particles and spray droplets was carried out in order to explain this observation. Such properties as the agglomeration state of the freshly generated airborne dust particles and the airborne dust production capacity of various materials were defined and quantified. Electrostatic charges on individual airborne particles and spray droplets were measured. It was demonstrated that freshly generated airborne dust particles were extensively agglomerated. The magnitude of agglomeration was a function of material type and decided the amount of dust becoming airborne from a given material. This explains why certain materials such as quartz and anthracite produce more dust than some others.