The construction and demolition industry is a source of particulate emissions that is often forgotten. Because these activities are often in highly built-up areas, citizens may suffer not only nuisance but also health damage. The main causes are particulate emissions from diesel engine exhausts, emissions of resuspended particles, and a variety of process-specific emissions, including particulate emissions from drilling, cutting and welding.
A range of measures have already been taken, wholly or in part, to reduce the particulate emissions associated with construction work. Effective at-source measures include a switch to clean fuels, use of diesel engines with particulate filters and paving the most frequently used routes on construction sites to prevent particle resuspension. If particulate emissions are unavoidable the strategy should be to limit their dispersion to a minimum, by spraying surfaces with water, for example, or by extracting airborne particulates using ventilation plant with a suitable filter.
The Building Decree and local building regulations grant local authorities the power to demand measures to limit these emissions. They can prescribe use of a particular fuel or electrically powered equipment, for example. There is therefore already plenty of scope for action to tackle the particulate emissions associated with construction and demolition. Which measures are most effective will depend on the specific situation, and an understanding of the actual pattern of emissions can inform choices as to which measures deserve priority.