Equipment Emissions and the Workplace
Air quality in warehouse applications plays a critical part in the health and well-being of workers. Whether you are running diesel, gas, or LPG powered forklifts, emissions have a serious impact on a person's health and subsequently on their ability to work.
So what are LPG and diesel emissions?
The exhaust gasses discharged from LPG and diesel powered engines contains several chemicals that are harmful not only to the environment but to our own health as well. These emissions are made up of a variety of key particulates.
CO: Carbon Monoxide is generated as a result of incomplete combustion of fuel and released in exhaust fumes generated by both diesel and LPG engines. When internal combustion engine machines are used in enclosed environments carbon monoxide causes headaches, dizziness and lethargy.
HC: Hydrocarbons are also generated as a result of incomplete combustion in both diesel and LPG powered engines. Known for their negative effects on the environment Hydrocarbons are one of two major contributors to the smell diesel emissions have.
NOx: Nitrogen oxides are generated by high pressure and temperature conditions in the engine cylinder and the combination of nitrogen and oxygen. Consisting of mostly nitric oxide (NO) and a small amount of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is extremely toxic, nitrogen oxide plays a massive part in smog formation. Nitrogen Oxides are found in all internal combustion engine exhaust.
SO2: Sulfur dioxide is generated from sulfur present in all diesel fuel. Depending on the sulfur content in the fuel, the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the exhaust will vary. This colourless toxic gas has a distinct smell and has a profound impact on the environment as it is one of the major causes of acid rain.
DPM: Diesel particulate matter is defined by the EPA as a complex aggregate of solid and liquid material. The composition of the DPM will vary depending on the engine, the load it is carrying, and the speed conditions. DPM is made up of carbonaceous particles created during combustion. In DPM primary carbon particles bind together to form larger particles, combining with both organic and inorganic components, because DPM is so small it is easily inhaled and has a significant impact on worker health.
How are Emissions Regulated?
Emissions from materials handling equipment run in indoor applications poses a serious health hazard to workers. Many confined pace applications are regulated through ambient air quality standards. These standards have maximum concentrations of air contaminants allowed in the workplace, and are enforced by safety authorities such as OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration), WorkSafe, or MSHA (Mining Safety and Health Administration).
In North America these standards are based on guidelines established by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (AACGIH) but can vary depending on the jurisdiction.
How can we reduce harmful emissions?
By using a combination of increased ventilation, engine construction and maintenance, as well as exhaust gas after-treatment employers and equipment manufacturers can seriously reduce the impact equipment emissions have on workers. On materials handling equipment catalytic converters, mufflers, exhaust pipes, and exhaust intake and output valves all play a big part in reducing emissions.