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The proposed research addresses air quality inside the cabs of nonroad diesel equipment used for highway maintenance and construction. This is an important problem because the current number of nonroad diesel equipment operators is expected to grow by 12% (faster than the national average for other occupations) by 2026. This research is significant because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies indoor air quality as one of the five most urgent risks to public health. Given that equipment operators spend much of their day inside the equipment cab, poor air quality may be a significant human health issue. This research is also significant because exposure to diesel exhaust is an important human health concern. EPA assessed the possible health hazards associated with diesel exhaust exposure and concluded that there are effects from short-term and/or acute exposures, as well as long-term chronic exposures, including repeated occupational exposures. Furthermore, nonroad equipment operates in a harsh environment including temperature and humidity extremes, dusty conditions, and near a high pollution source – the tailpipe of the equipment.


The primary objective is to collect and analyze real-world data related to air quality in nonroad diesel equipment cabs. The pollutants to be assessed include particulate matter (PM), black carbon (BC), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), and carbon dioxide (CO2). Analysis will include determining time-weighted averages (TWA) and short-term exposure limits (STEL) for each pollutant that characterizes the air quality inside the equipment cab.


The main benefit of the research is to determine whether or not health risks related to air quality exists for nonroad diesel equipment operators.

Related Research:

The proposed research is complementary to two research projects conducted at the Center for Advancing Research in Transportation, Emissions, Energy, and Health (CARTEEH). Results from these CARTEEH projects revealed that nonroad equipment operators are almost always exposed to varying concentrations of PM, BC, NOx, CO, and CO2. In a related study by researchers at Oklahoma State University, findings showed that PM, NOx, CO, and CO2 were nearly always present in the equipment cab during operation. Furthermore, temperature and humidity conditions frequently created cautionary heat index levels inside the equipment cab, sometimes even during cooler winter months.


1. Conduct a review of current literature.

  1. Identify the most frequently used types of nonroad diesel equipment in public maintenance fleets.

  2. Collect in-cab air quality data for each pollutant from the most frequently used types of equipment.

  3. Analyze the data to identify summary statistics, time-weighed averages, and short-term exposure limits for each pollutant.

  4. Compare the results to occupational health standards to determine if a potential hazard exists.


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This research is appropriate for MS and PhD research.

Sponsoring Committee:AKR30, Maintenance Fleet and Equipment
Research Period:12 - 24 months
RNS Developer:Phil Lewis, PhD, PE; Texas A&M University
Date Posted:05/22/2022
Date Modified:05/22/2022
Index Terms:
Maintenance and Preservation
Safety and Human Factors
Vehicles and Equipment

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