Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Strimmers are worse than motorway traffic

Motorway maintenance workers are exposed to various harmful emissions. Surprisingly, motorised hand-held tools such as strimmers 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.

(*) Reto Meier R.1, Wayne E. Cascio, Brigitta Danuser, Michael Riediker (2013). Exposure of highway maintenance workers to fine particulate matter and noise. Annals of Occupational Hygiene online: doi:10.1093/annhyg/met018
(available as a PDF from the SNSF; e-mail:

Reto Meier
Institute for Work and Health
Rue du Bugnon 21
CH-1011 Lausanne
Tel.: +41 21 314 74 36

Abteilung Kommunikation | idw
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>