American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Safety Health Impacts of Particulate Matter from Excavation Work Sites

Giuseppe Pizzo and Marina Clerico

DOI : 10.3844/ajessp.2012.466.472

American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 8, Issue 4

Pages 466-472


Epidemiological studies have shown a linear relationship between airborne particulates and effects on human health. This study examines the risk that can be run by populations which are exposed to significant pollutant sources such as excavation in urban areas for renovation work. The health risk assessment methodology defined by the WHO air quality guidelines for Europe was applied to assess the possible health effects from exposure to PM10 for daily average concentrations greater than 50 µg m-3 and greater than 100 µg m-3 for three consecutive days and for increments of 10 µg m-3. The methodology adopted was based on daily average concentrations detected in a monitoring period of 8 months in different areas in and around the excavation work site with concentrations of PM10 below or above the legal limits. The exposure estimates calculated show that urban areas with excavation work sites are damaging to human health, due to the large number of people exposed and the already high concentrations of PM10 within cities. It was found that even when in parts of a work site legal limits of PM10 are not exceeded, adverse effects on health still occur. The application, in the present study, of the WHO methodology of exposure assessment indicates the risk ratio for effects on human health. Epidemiological data do not suggest exposition threshold values below which there are no adverse health effects. It is not possible to identify a PM10 concentration value, attributable to an additional source, such as an excavation work site, below which there is no damage. The purpose of this research is therefore to stimulate debate and decisions by public authorities, in order to deepen knowledge and to address issues related to airborne particulates.


© 2012 Giuseppe Pizzo and Marina Clerico. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.