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Why You Should Be Monitoring NO2 On Construction and Demolition Sites

Construction sites can generate many types of pollution. If you asked somebody to describe what they thought were the most common types of waste, they would point to things like noise, vibration, and dust pollution.

However, one of the most common problems people experience on demolition and construction sites is the presence of nitrogen dioxide and fine dust particles, known to many as particulate matter.

With roughly 7% of all NO2 production in London generated by Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM), it’s never been more important to engage in proper dust monitoring and keeping an eye on MO2 levels.

How do construction sites make NO2?

So, the burning of fossil fuels creates oxides of nitrogen. This is what we call NO2, but what we’re actually interested in is NOx. This is a combination of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. NO2 is primarily the concerning element due to the health impact that it has.

However, nitric oxide can convert to NO2 in the air, so if we’re going to manage the concentrations of NO2 properly, we need to control NOx emissions!

What are the health effects of NO2?

So, it is important to recognise that there are short-term consequences of NO2 and long-term consequences. Short-term impacts can include airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory distress in asthmatics.

Studies have also shown that there is a connection between short-term exposure to NO2 and increased admission to hospitals for respiratory illness.

Furthermore, NOx can mix with ammonia, moisture and other compounds in the air to form smaller particles that can easily enter the sensitive parts of the body.

Recent research conducted on the subject shows that children who were exposed to air pollution in London had a poor lung capacity and were at risk of developing lifelong breathing problems.

Thoughts on NO2 measurement

Dust monitoring is a good way of gauging how much NO2 is present in the air.

There are special devices which have an actively pumped airflow which allows them to sample NO2 in the atmosphere to get a proper understanding of how many key pollutants exist on the site.

The data is then stored and uploaded to the cloud, which can be accessed by anybody.

There are also passive systems to consider that collect and store information over the course of a month.

We usually measure NO2 concentrations as something over an hour period, and we use it frequently for construction projects during working hours in this way.

Final thoughts

It’s important to measure NO2 concentrations to gauge how harmful the exposure is to the workers on the construction site. Long-term exposure to this chemical can be dangerous, which is why it is important to keep an eye on it.

It’s often recommended that construction sites get real-time figures on NO2 production, as well as having the passive data gathering for a month. The two working in tandem can help to make a comprehensive analysis and be good for dust monitoring.

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