Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Particulate matter emissions: Trimmers and chainsaws are worse than highway traffic

Date:
May 30, 2013
Source:
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung
Summary:
Highway maintenance workers are exposed to various harmful emissions. Surprisingly, motorized hand-held tools such as strimmers (string trimmers) and chainsaws, rather than highway traffic, are responsible for the highest emissions of particulate matter.

The pie chart shows how various maintenance jobs contribute to ultrafine particulate exposure.
Credit: Reto Meier, Institute for Work and Health

Motorway maintenance workers are exposed to various harmful emissions. Surprisingly, motorised hand-held tools such as strimmers (string trimmers) and chainsaws, rather than motorway traffic, are responsible for the highest emissions of particulate matter.

These are the conclusions of a study supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

The study was conducted between May 2010 and February 2012 by researchers working with Michael Riediker at the Institute for Work and Health in Lausanne. They accompanied 18 maintenance workers on 50 working days during tasks such as clearing snow, mending crash barriers, cleaning drains, cutting wood or mowing grass on the motorway central reservation. They measured the levels of air pollution, particulates and noise to which workers were exposed during each activity. The result compared to the average population, maintenance workers are exposed to between three and eight times higher particulate levels. In addition, noise levels often exceed the critical level of 85 decibels.

"Real belchers"

Surprisingly, motorway traffic is not the main source of noise and pollutants. More than 50 percent of airborne particulates are emitted by strimmers and chainsaws. "The small combustion engines which the workers carry on their backs use petrol with oil additives. This makes them real belchers," says Reto Meier, the lead author of the study. The quickest way to reduce particulate levels, therefore, is to improve the engines in these machines. This is primarily a challenge for the manufacturers, but Meier adds that employers can also play a role by considering emission levels when purchasing equipment.

Hearing protection

Maintenance workers are exposed to the highest noise levels when using pneumatic drills. But the use of strimmers or chainsaws and the traffic during maintenance work in tunnels also give rise to noise levels of 90 decibels or more. Researchers noticed that workers wear hearing protection reliably when they are the cause of the noise, but often fail to do so when the noise is caused by their colleagues or by the traffic. "To prevent damage to the ears, protection should be worn whenever possible," says Meier.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Meier, W. E. Cascio, B. Danuser, M. Riediker. Exposure of Highway Maintenance Workers to Fine Particulate Matter and Noise. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/annhyg/met018

Cite This Page:

Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. "Particulate matter emissions: Trimmers and chainsaws are worse than highway traffic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530094627.htm>.
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. (2013, May 30). Particulate matter emissions: Trimmers and chainsaws are worse than highway traffic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530094627.htm
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. "Particulate matter emissions: Trimmers and chainsaws are worse than highway traffic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530094627.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins