Idling study raises concern over in-cab pollution

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An Environmental Protection Agency study of air pollution inside and outside trucks idling at a truck stop indicated particle concentrations “might be a concern.”

The study involved six trucks idling in different areas of a large truck stop in Knoxville, Tenn., during December 2004 and January 2005. The trucks were model years 1996-2003 with engines ranging from 410 to 430 horsepower. The truck manufacturers were not identified; the engine brands included Detroit Diesel and Caterpillar.

“It was noted that there might be routes of entry other than just the fresh air intake vents and that it may arise from crankcase emissions or other leaks inside the engine compartment,” said the study’s conclusion. The study’s authors recommend a follow-up study to identify the source of contamination.

An additional test of a truck in an empty parking lot without other idling trucks nearby yielded similar results. That indicated the truck by itself plays a major role in contributing to the concentrations of pollutants outside and inside the cab. This implies that some exhaust emissions come from locations other than the smokestack.

Knoxville’s National Transportation Research Center of Oak Ridge National Laboratories funded the study under subcontract from EPA.