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Particulate Matter Pollution Affects Even Indoor Workers?

  • Thursday, 07 July 2016 10:41

We recently reported on the number of economic and physical issues associated with particulate emissions but a new study released from the National Bureau of Economic Research reports on the far reaching indoor effects of fine particulate pollution.

The study, titled The Effect of Pollution on Worker Productivity: Evidence from Call-Center Workers from China was comprised of a team of economists and public health researchers and found that working inside does not exempt you from the negative effects of air pollution. These fine particulate pollution emissions were easily capable of finding their way into any office environment. The evidence showcased the negative impact of pollution on the productivity of workers at a large Chinese travel firm, where the study was conducted, “A 10-unit increase in the air pollution index (API) decreases the number of daily calls handled by a worker by 0.35 percent on average. … To our knowledge, these results are the first evidence of an effect of pollution on white-collar labor.”

Demonstrating that air pollution has severe economic consequences for organizations, the study concluded that, “In 2014, the air quality index [in Los Angeles] exceeded the EPA standard on 90 days. If all of those days were brought into regulatory compliance, service sector productivity in the county of Los Angeles would have been $374 million larger.”

Fine particulate pollution is considered a principal pollutant by the EPA.

According to the EPA common issues associated with particle pollution are:

-Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Particle pollution contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems including: premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.

A significant source of particulate pollution comes from synthetic high octane gasoline additives such as benzene toluene and xylene, which make up almost 30% of gasoline by volume. Known carcinogens, these particulate emissions carry hydrocarbons into soft body tissues, the bloodstream and even the central nervous system.

In 2015, 7 air pollution warnings attributed to particulate matter were issued within the Twin Cities with 40% or 145 days being labeled a moderate threat level due to particulate matter emissions. So far in 2016, there have been 3 issued air pollution warnings and 66 days being categorized as moderate threat levels.

Luckily there is an alternative to these synthetic additives, ethanol! The oxygen in ethanol has been shown to consistently reduce primary exhaust particulate matter for fossil fuel emissions. It was even shown that particulate matter decreased 34% nationwide from 2000 to 2013 which coincided with the RFS introducing ethanol blends into the gasoline stock on a massive scale.

Worker productivity and white collar industry economic output can all be enhanced with increased oxygenated ethanol content in our motor fuel. Transportation sector emissions make up 34% of carbon emissions in the world, with light duty vehicles making up 60% of that number. You the consumer can have a dramatic impact on these startling statistics by making the choice to buy gasoline with ethanol.

If you own a flex-fuel vehicle, we encourage you to use E85 as it significantly reduces particulate matter emissions! Download our app or visit our website biofuel locator map to see all of the biofuel options that are available to you in the MN area. You are in control of what you put in your car!