Truckers’ Health & the Increase of Zero-Emission Trucks

The trucking market is the foundation of the worldwide economy, as business provide items throughout huge ranges for our benefit. In 2021, 72 percent of products in America were delivered by trucks, highlighting the financial significance of the trucking market and its motorists. Nevertheless, the diesel trucks that power this market come at a considerable expense, discharging hazardous emissions that position severe risks to public health and the environment. Truck motorists bear the impact of this contamination considering that they come across hazardous diesel exhaust fumes as a routine part of their day-to-day work regimen. Transitioning to zero-emission trucks not just has the possible to enhance truck motorists’ health however likewise provides a course towards a more sustainable future.

Hazardous results of diesel emissions

Diesel emissions launch hazardous toxins like nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particle matter 2.5 (PM2.5) into the environment. NOx comes from a group of reactive gases produced throughout activities such as nonrenewable fuel source combustion and commercial procedures. PM2.5, frequently referred to as soot, is another hazardous element discovered in diesel exhaust and is related to breathing concerns. PM2.5 forms an intricate aerosol system mainly related to black smoke from diesel motor, and its ultrafine size of less than 2.5 microns permits it to quickly go into the lungs, triggering breathing concerns. Routine direct exposure to PM2.5 has actually been connected to different breathing illness, making it a considerable issue for truck motorists, who are often exposed to diesel exhaust. PM2.5 can likewise aggravate the nose, throat, lungs, and eyes, resulting in cardiovascular disease and sudden death. Regardless of just representing 6 percent of the on-road fleet, durable trucks created 59 percent of ozone- and particle-forming NOx emissions, 55 percent of particle contamination, and 26 percent of transportation-based greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, according to research study by the American Lung Association

In-cabin contamination: An ignored risk

In-cabin contamination presents among the most substantial day-to-day direct exposures to air toxins for motorists. In time, truck cabins can collect unhealthy levels of PM2.5 and NOx emissions. The cabin functions as a hotbox for toxins, resulting in motorists breathing in these fumes daily. In-cabin contamination can have harmful results on motorists who invest long hours in their trucks, resulting in breathing concerns, such as asthma and breathing infections, while likewise adding to cardiovascular issues. According to the American Cancer Society, employees with the heaviest and most extended direct exposures to diesel emissions– such as railway employees, heavy-equipment operators, miners, and truck motorists– have actually been discovered to have greater lung cancer death rates than unexposed employees.

Who is at threat and what are the influence on health?

There have to do with 3.5 million truck motorists in the United States, according to the American Trucking Association Due to the nature of their tasks– long hours, little rest, absence of healthy food alternatives– truck motorists are more at threat for asthma, heart problem, and weight problems. This, coupled with the truth that the typical age of a truck chauffeur is 46 years of ages, indicates that in-cabin diesel emissions straight increase the threat of serious, unfavorable health results. Medical research study shows that truck motorists frequently exposed to diesel exhaust deal with a raised threat of lung cancer. The International Firm for Research Study on Cancer categorizes diesel exhaust as a Group 1 human carcinogen, suggesting there suffices proof connecting it to an increased threat of lung cancer. Direct exposure to diesel particle matter (DPM) can likewise result in breathing signs, reduced lung function, and hospitalizations for heart and lung illness, consisting of asthma.

A 2018 research study on occupational health variations amongst long-haul truck motorists in the United States exposed substantial distinctions in health dangers compared to other sample groups. The research study highlights that the long-haul truck chauffeur group had greater mean ratings for both heart disease and metabolic illness threat. Furthermore, truck motorists showed raised levels of body mass index (BMI) and hypertension. Particularly, 43.9 percent of truck motorists had a BMI substantially above the mean of the research study’s sample, and this pattern corresponded. Furthermore, 30 percent of truckers observed in the research study had greater systolic high blood pressure, and half had raised diastolic high blood pressure. These findings highlight the health variations and increased threat elements for cardiovascular and metabolic illness within the truck chauffeur profession.

Moreover, truck motorists are less most likely to have medical insurance protection compared to other employees (with 15 percent being uninsured versus 10 percent for all employees), which contributes to their vulnerability. The health variations and raised health dangers observed amongst long-haul truck motorists without medical insurance can lead to postponed treatment, monetary difficulties, reduced task efficiency, and possible long-lasting health issues.

The advantages of accepting zero-emission trucks

While some truck motorists might have issues about guidelines that look for to shift fleets towards zero-emission lorries (ZEV), promoting for ZEV requirements can bring various advantages, especially in enhancing health results and workplace. Transitioning to zero-emission trucks provides the following benefits:

  1. Public health: The shift to zero-emission trucks will protect a large range of public health advantages, consisting of avoiding 66,800 sudden deaths, 8.5 million lost workdays, and 1.75 million asthma attacks over the next thirty years.
  2. Decreased air contamination: ZEVs substantially reduce NOx and PM2.5 emissions, enhancing air quality and decreasing the threat of breathing illness. Research Studies have actually revealed that neighborhoods with high direct exposure to DPM have a higher threat of asthma.
  3. Lower sound levels: Zero-emission trucks produce less sound pollution, resulting in enhanced psychological wellness and concentration while decreasing the health concerns related to extreme sound direct exposure. Sound pollution can result in motorists struggling with hearing loss, lightheadedness, headaches, hypertension, and stress and anxiety. A research study performed in 2015 discovered that traffic sound was related to cardiovascular problems in all grownups and the senior, and exposed that long-lasting direct exposure to sound from roadway traffic can increase the threat of death.
  4. Lower upkeep expenses: Zero-emission trucks normally have lower upkeep expenses than their diesel equivalents. Electric trucks have an easier power train with less moving parts and do not need different fluids like engine oil, coolant, or transmission fluid, which removes the requirement for fluid modifications and decreases the probability of leakages. Moreover, electrical trucks typically function regenerative braking, which helps in reducing wear and tear, extending a car’s life expectancy and decreasing brake system upkeep requirements. Lastly, electrical trucks typically make use of advanced sensing units and information analytics to keep track of the conditions of elements, which enables proactive upkeep by determining concerns prior to they end up being vital, decreasing downtime and upkeep expenses. These elements add to zero-emission trucks having lower overall expense of ownership compared to their diesel equivalents, however more need to be done to bring up-front expenses down
  5. Enhanced workplace: Numerous zero-emission trucks are created with chauffeur convenience in mind. They can include ergonomic seating, advanced environment control systems, and improved sound insulation. These functions add to a more comfy and pleasurable driving experience, decreasing tiredness and promoting chauffeur wellness. Electric trucks usually have smoother velocity, consequently offering a more steady driving experience and decreasing the physical stress on motorists’ bodies from the extreme vibrations brought on by standard diesel trucks. Lastly, zero-emission trucks’ peaceful operation and enhanced in-cabin air quality produce a conductive environment for relaxing sleep throughout rest breaks or over night stops. Enhanced sleep quality results in more alert and focused motorists, improving security on the roadway.


Zero-emission trucks hold tremendous capacity for decreasing hazardous emissions and enhancing the health and wellness of countless individuals. One mainly neglected group of recipients is truck motorists. Promoting for ZEV requirements is important to speed up the shift to cleaner transport, guaranteeing a much healthier environment for truck motorists and the neighborhoods they serve. By accepting zero-emission trucks, the trucking market and truck motorists can develop a much healthier and more comfy workplace, eventually enhancing task complete satisfaction, performance, and general wellness.

By Guillermo Ortiz, This blog site was composed by Noelia Agramont, NRDC 2023 summer season intern. Assistance for this internship program is offered by the U.C. Merced Department of Equity, Justice, and Inclusive Quality.

Thanks to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)


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