Universities regularly undergo construction to address the needs of the community and improve the education and training they provide. Every day, individuals from all walks of life visit university campuses. It may be for their own education, to attend a campus event, or to go to work. When people walk by construction sites they are exposed to diesel exhaust and other air pollutants that cause adverse health outcomes and exacerbate ongoing health conditions.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) has joined the MAHA Clean Construction Partnership to substantially reduce diesel pollution at their construction sites and improve public health.
The combustion of diesel fuels produces particulate matter—a toxic blend of fine and microscopic particles—and nitrogen oxides, a component of smog and a particulate matter precursor. Diesel particulate matter may linger in the atmosphere around combustion areas like construction site, contaminating the air and resulting in exposure long after the machines are turned off.
Particulate matter poses a significant health risk as some of the particles are small enough to evade the body’s respiratory protections, enter deep into the lungs and pass into the bloodstream impacting the cardiovascular system. Both short- and long-term exposure to particulate matter has been shown to have adverse health effects. Exposure to these particles threatens the health of students, teachers, staff and visitors.
The Medical Advocates for Healthy Air (MAHA) Clean Construction Partnership aims to reduce particulate matter exposure and its adverse health effects by adopting clean construction standards. Novant Health and Atrium Health have already joined the partnership and implemented the standards by requiring the use of EPA Tier 4 low emission equipment and discouraging unnecessary idling. Now UNC Charlotte joins the partnership, protecting the health of its students, faculty, staff, visitors and the surrounding community.
MAHA commends UNC Charlotte, Novant Health and Atrium for being leaders in air quality and community health. If your organization would like to join the partnership and improve public health, you can email [email protected]. You can also learn more about the partnership and clean construction practices on our Clean Construction web.