Measurement of Personal PM10, PM2.5 and PM1 Exposures in Tractor and Combine Operations and Evaluation of Health Disturbances of Operators

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Arslan S., Aybek A., Ekerbicer H. C.

JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES-TARIM BILIMLERI DERGISI, vol.16, no.2, pp.104-115, 2010 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 16 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Doi Number: 10.1501/tarimbil_0000001127
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.104-115
  • Keywords: PM 10, PM2.5, PM1, Personal exposure, Tractor, Combine harvester, DUST
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: No


The objective of this study was to determine personal PM 10, PM2.5, and PM1 exposure levels of tractor and combine harvester operators in rotary tilling, disc-harrowing, soil packing, planting, fertilizing, harvesting, hay making, and bale making, and to determine health status of the operators. The gravimetric method was used to determine particulate matters (PM) concentrations. PMIO concentrations were higher than the threshold limit value (15000 mu g m(-3)) determined by Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) in rotary tilling (25770 mu g m(-3)), wheat harvesting (29300 mu g m(-3)), and hay making (24640 mu g m(-3)). Similarly, PM2.5 concentrations were also greater than the threshold limit (5000 mu g m(-3)) in these operations (respectively with 5888, 10560, 8470 mu g m(-3)). PM1 concentration was considerably high, especially in wheat harvest and hay making (respectively with 3130 and 6026 mu g m(-3)), and was even greater than the PM2.5 threshold limit during hay making. It is probable for such high PM concentrations of fine particles to increase the respiratory system nuisances. PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations were measured to be lower than the thresholds in all other field applications. A respiratory questionnaire survey was administered to 40 operators for determination of upper and lowers respiratory disturbances and smoking habits. Sixty three percent of operators were smokers, and complained about coughing with 60% and phlegm with 83%. Health complaint about chest tightness is 31% and breathlessness is about 29%. Nevertheless, when smokers and non-smokers are evaluated separately, coughing rate decreases to 47% and chest tightness reduces to 13%. Although personal exposure to particulate matters is important in its effect on respiratory system disturbances, smoking habit aggravates the complaints. Operators need to use personal preventions to avoid such adverse health effects when operating tractors and combine harvesters without cabins. Operators are unlikely to work in the comfort zone due to high ambient temperature and low relative humidity in vehicles without cabins.