Construction sites are among the most polluting sources according to studies. Statistics reveal us that construction activities account for about 4% of the particulate emissions. Some of the construction activities that give way to air pollution include emissions from diesel engines, burning, demolition, land clearing, and working with toxic materials. Construction sites generate very high levels of dust consisting of cement, wood, stone, silica, concrete and others. These particles can be carried over large distances over a period. Scientifically, the dust from construction sites is classified under PM10 meaning particulate matter that is lesser than 10 microns in diameter, which is invisible to the naked eye.
Why the concern?
Medical studies report that PM10 is found to penetrate very deep inside the lungs bringing about a wide range of health issues in humans including asthma, respiratory illnesses, cancer, and bronchitis. While the whole world is switching to measures that will bring down the pollution levels, responsible practices in construction can help minimize the particulate emissions from construction sites and let you accomplish a greener construction. Here we explore some practical tips to minimize the dust particles at the construction sites.
Tips to reduce air pollution at construction sites
- Disturb the land in and around the construction site minimally by leaving the vegetation cover. This can prevent erosion and run-off.
- Use water sprays to dampen the site and thereby control the dust.
- It is good to screen the whole site in order to stop the spreading of dust. As an alternative, you may also place a mesh screening arrangement close to the source of dust.
- Keep the trucks loaded with building materials covered. With low levels of water, you can damp it down continuously. Cover the piles that contain building materials such as cement, sand, and other kinds of powders regularly. Place them in areas where they will not be washed away into drains and waterways.
- While choosing the paints, solvents and other construction materials, use non-toxic ones as much as possible.
- Segregate and keep the toxic materials tightly covered to avoid spilling over and resulting in contamination of the site.
- Keep the drains in the site covered so that they stay protected.
- Do not let the wastewater resulting from the construction activity in settlement tanks. Screen the water and discharge the clean water. Dispose of the remaining sludge in line with environmental regulations.
- For vehicles and equipment engines, use only low sulfur diesel oil. Take steps to comply with the latest regulations with regard to the filtering of particulate emissions and catalytic converters.
- Never burn the materials on the construction site. Dispose of the waste to areas demarcated for waste dumping and then take the right steps to do away with them.
- Handle the materials carefully so that there is as little noise pollution as possible. Go for modern equipment, generators, and power tools that will emit lesser noise. Shifting to low impact technologies and wall structures is a good way to reduce air pollution. Also, implement sound shields to minimize the noise emitted from the construction site.