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.

Related Articles


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 November 22, 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 November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

AP (Nov. 22, 2014) Hundreds of volunteers joined a 'shovel brigade' in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, as the city was living up to its nickname, "The City of Good Neighbors." Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
5 Hot Months, 1 Warm Year And All The Arguments To Follow

5 Hot Months, 1 Warm Year And All The Arguments To Follow

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) The NOAA released statistics Thursday showing October was the fifth month this year with record temps and 2014 will likely be the hottest on record. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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