Buying an air purifier for commercial vehicles

The transportation sector is the biggest source of ambient air pollution. Commercial vehicles – due to their size, dependence upon diesel fuel, and long distances driven – contribute disproportionately to fossil fuel emissions. In fact, heavy-duty commercial vehicles are to blame for 25% of all emissions generated by the transportation sector1. These emissions put everyone at risk, but perhaps no one more so than commercial vehicle drivers who spend the most time on the road inhaling harmful particles. How can an air purifier for commercial vehicles help protect drivers? Read on to learn more.

Trucks/lorries parked at a rest stop

Indoor air quality in commercial vehicles

Commercial vehicles defined

Commercial vehicles are those that transport goods or people. For tax purposes, all of the following vehicles are considered to be ‘commercial vehicles’ if they operate for business purposes. In the UK, there are many categories under which these vehicles can fall, including:

Car

Most vehicles fall under this category. However, some vehicles that transport people, also called ‘people carriers’, are considered to be commercial vehicles3. Typically, this includes vehicles with less than 16 seats. These include:

  • Minibuses
  • Taxis
  • Motorhomes
  • Campervans
  • Cars towing caravans
  • Smaller ambulances

Light goods vehicles (LGVs)

These vehicles have a total weight of under 3,500 kg (7,716 lb). They typically include:

  • Car-type delivery vans
  • Ambulances (without windows and milk floats)
  • Small pickups2

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)

Perhaps somewhat confusingly, just like their lighter counterparts, these vehicles are also sometimes referred to as ‘LGVs’ (‘large good vehicles’). These vehicles have a total weight of over 3,500 kg (7,716 lb). Some examples are:

  • Commercial and industrial lorries and trucks
  • Tractors
  • Large vans

Public service vehicles (PSVs)

All public service vehicles containing more than 16 seats fall under this category. All types of buses are considered to be PSVs, including school buses and public buses.

A double-decker bus passing in front of the London Bridge

Regardless of the category, commercial vehicles emit dangerous quantities of air pollutants. Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and methane are some of the most harmful offenders. Commercial vehicles are also responsible for what is known as ‘tailpipe pollution’ released in traffic that has direct impacts on health, especially for vehicle operators.

Indoor air quality in commercial vehicles

The UK, like most developed countries around the world, is heavily dependent on its commercial vehicles to keep its economy running. Unfortunately, 99% of the UK’s 4.5 million commercial vehicles rely on diesel fuel that releases harmful traffic exhaust emissions4.

Diesel emissions have a severe impact on human health and global climate. Diesel exhaust exposure leads to respiratory illness like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), exacerbation of heart and lung disease, and emits greenhouse gases that impact the health of our planet5.

Efforts to cut emissions in the EU and the UK

Targets have been set by both the European Union and the UK government to cut back on traffic exhaust emissions caused by commercial vehicles. In 2023, a proposal was submitted by the EU to cut back CO2 emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles from 2023 onwards (see below). This includes requiring all new city buses to be zero-emission by 2030. In the UK, in addition to banning the sale of all new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, it will phase out all new, non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles by 2040. This means that all new road vehicles sold in the UK must be zero-emission within the next 20 years6.

Goals to cut commercial vehicle emissions by 2025

Source 8

What kinds of air pollution do commercial vehicles release?

Despite these efforts to curb air pollution sourced from road transportation, emissions are still rising due to an ever-increasing number of commercial and professional vehicles required to satisfy customer demand for non-local products. Lorry and truck activity is expected to grow in the EU by 40% from 2019 to 20507. As mentioned above, commercial vehicles are responsible for more than a quarter of traffic and transportation emissions despite accounting for only 2% of road vehicles8.

Continually-growing increases in harmful emissions leads to increased exposure to harmful particles. The main airborne pollutants released by road transport include:

These airborne pollutants impact everyone who breathes air outdoors and indoors, but it has arguably the biggest effect on those driving commercial and professional vehicles.

Indoor air quality in passenger transport vehicles

Bus and coach activity is equally expected to grow by 10% from 2019 to 20507.

Students and commuters spend a significant portion of each day riding the bus to and from their destinations, often in traffic. This is why multiple studies have focused their efforts on analysing the state of indoor air quality in public and school buses. Bus transport has been described as an ‘important source’ of PM10, PM2.5, gases like VOCs, and germs (viruses and bacteria)9. Pollutant levels inside buses are typically 2.5 times higher inside the bus than they are outside (note the similar statistic regarding indoor spaces which are usually 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor spaces).

In addition to fine particle pollution (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and black carbon exposure, a 2020 study in Canadian cities found that bus commuters are also exposed to a range of heavy metals along their journeys, likely due to brake dust and wear. The study further claimed that bus commuters experienced one-fifth of the daily recommended exposure to air pollutants during their bus commutes10. Another similar study in Australia found that bus commuters experienced 36% of the recommended daily exposure to air pollutants during bus commutes, especially when the bus is idling in traffic11.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 2021 study analysed both ambient viral presence and viruses on surfaces in public transport systems (buses and subways). It found that even after cleaning surfaces with bleach, traces of the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome were detected. The study stated that both large and small buses at full capacity pose ‘unacceptable risk’ of pathogen spread, even if there is sufficient natural ventilation. In order to avoid transmission of bacteria and viruses in public transportation systems, rigorous cleaning systems needed to be put in place which should include air filtration12.

This demonstrates the need to find efficient solutions to combat poor air quality in public and school buses. It is a necessity in protecting students, children, and all passengers from microparticles, particulate matter, and germs.

The benefits of air purifiers for commercial vehicles

Protect driver and passenger exposure to smog and air pollution

The main purpose of installing an air purifier for commercial vehicles is the removal of air pollution, protecting the users of those spaces from its dangers. A 2020 study recommends, at minimum, the use of diesel particulate filters in buses as these safeguard both drivers and passengers from inhalation of dangerous smog-causing fine particles10. Even better is an efficient air purifier designed to combat VOCs as well (like the activated carbon filters found in Eoleaf’s devices).

A commercial vehicle driver driving a truck

The main types of air pollution are biological pollution, chemical pollution, and particulate matter. All three of these are found in public transportation.

  • Biological pollution: air pollutants that are sourced from living organisms
  • Chemical pollution: found in abundance in indoor spaces
    • VOCs like formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene (these toxic gases are known human carcinogens)
    • Carbon monoxide
    • Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
    • Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
    • Pesticides
  • Fine particle pollution (particulate matter or PM)
    • Commonly sourced from fossil fuel burning (road traffic and industry) and leads to smog
    • Also caused by wildfires, tobacco and other types of smoke, fractured pollen particles (both in-tact and fractured pollen particles are allergy triggers), dust particles, hair, and dandruff

Exposure to all of these forms of pollution have an effect on health. Some common resulting health issues may be:

  • Allergy symptoms often associated with exposure to pollen and/or dust
  • Aggravation of respiratory disease (like asthma or COPD) symptoms
    • In those suffering from asthma, air pollution commonly triggers asthma attacks
  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • Respiratory distress, difficulty breathing, and coughing
  • Headache and nausea
  • Increased risk of cancer (especially lung cancer), fatigue, mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, and lower productivity and cognitive performance
  • Premature death – 3.8 million people die annually from diseases attributable to indoor air pollution on a global scale according to the WHO

Neutralise odours

Air purifiers for commercial and professional vehicles that are equipped with odour-fighting technologies like activated carbon filters help combat unpleasant odours. Some unpleasant and even dangerous odours in commercial vehicles may include chemical odours (often linked to VOCs which activated carbon filters also combat), live animal odours, body odours in public transport, and more.

Fighting odours in trucks, lorries, vans, and public transport (as well as other professional vehicles) may provide a better working environment for drivers and passengers, enhancing well-being along their journeys.

Remove germs like viruses and bacteria

As mentioned above, seeing as many public transportation environments pose ‘unacceptable risk’ to health in regards to disease transmission, an air purifier for commercial vehicles may be just what the doctor ordered for germ removal. Air purifiers that come with UVC sterilisation technologies are particularly effective at the removal of pathogens from the air, protecting drivers and passengers from disease spread. Removing viruses and bacteria from the air may also keep merchandise safe and avoid infection upon arrival at its destination.

A woman wearing a mask aboard a bus

How to choose an air purifier for commercial vehicles?

With so many products on the market offering different filtration technologies and options, it may be hard to choose the right air purifier for commercial vehicles depending upon your needs. Before making your purchase, a few factors must be considered to ensure that you choose the most efficient device for your needs.

Vehicle type and space available

All air purifiers are designed to filter the air of a room or space of a maximum size. To ensure optimal air filtration, make sure that your device is properly sized. Eoleaf’s Pure CAR, our model of air purifier built for vehicle use, filters the air in vehicles up to 13m2 (about 140 square feet). This is the perfect size for optimal performance in most vehicles, even large buses, trucks, and lorries.

Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)

You may have seen other air purification products refer to ‘CADR’ and for good reason! This is an extremely important metric to consider before purchasing an air purifier. The best way to determine an air purifier’s ability to remove pollutants to air is by its CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate). The CADR metric was developed to standardise air purification devices and refers to the volume of air that an air purifier can filter per minute. The higher the CADR, the better! The Pure CAR offers an impressive CADR of 45 m³/h.

Energy consumption

This is a crucial element to keep in mind since vehicles do not have unlimited amounts of energy. Eoleaf’s Pure CAR connects using a cigarette lighter plug. In vehicles like buses that have electrical outlets for passengers, it may be beneficial to purchase a car plug to wall plug adapter (available for only £5 online) to install another device in the back of the bus. In either case, seek out an energy-efficient, low-consumption air purifier for commercial vehicles for cleaning and filtering cabin air.

Filter type and maintenance

When fighting against fine particle pollution like those emitted by road traffic, it is essential to purchase an air purifier for commercial and professional vehicles that will remove even the smallest fine particles like those released from tobacco smoke and fossil fuel combustion. All Eoleaf devices contain HEPA filters as part of their proprietary, multi-step purification technology. HEPA filters undergo third-party testing to guarantee the removal of 99.97% of airborne particles down to a size of 0.01 microns in a single pass. This includes germs, allergy-causing substances, tobacco smoke, fine particles, and more. HEPA filters do have their limitations, however: they do not filter VOCs. This is why we always recommend purchasing a device with more than one filtration method. Keep in mind that all air purifiers require regular filter changes – our high-quality filters only need changing once a year, much less often than the industry standard.

Our Pure CAR boasts 6 efficient filtration technologies in one convenient, modern device. You will find the following technologies in our Pure CAR:

  1. Pre-filter for larger particles (typically 10 microns or larger), including allergy triggers like pet hair
  2. Bamboo fibre filter with a 3) silver ion coating
  1. HEPA filter for all fine particles down to a size of 0.01 microns
  2. Activated carbon filter for the removal of VOCs
  3. Ionisation to combat fine particle pollution

Eoleaf's multilayer filter

The above technologies specialise in the removal of all harmful particles, helping to keep the air in all commercial vehicles clean and filtered.

The Eoleaf difference

Here at Eoleaf, we are a dedicated team of air purification experts. We aim to protect you and your loved ones from the dangers of air pollution with devices that are durable and made-to-last. As members of the 1% for the Planet movement, we work hard to do our part in reducing our carbon emissions during transport.

For any questions regarding choosing the right device for you, do not hesitate to reach out to our team. Also refer to our in-depth Buying Guide to find all you need to know about our vehicle air purifiers and air purifiers for your home, flat, office, and more.

Eoleaf's Pure CAR device installed in a vehicle

Resources

1 How to eliminate pollution from heavy-duty vehicles. Union of Concerned Scientists. (2022, February 11). https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/heavy-duty-vehicles-and-nox

2 Vehicle classification UK. ABAX. (2023, October 20). https://www.abax.com/en-gb/blog/vehicle-classification-uk

3 What is the Standard UK Vehicle Classification Scheme?. What is the standard UK vehicle classification scheme? (n.d.). http://www.videodatapad.com/faq/standard-uk-vehicle-classification

4 BVRLA.co.uk. (n.d.). Fleet Air Quality. British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association. https://www.bvrla.co.uk/static/uploaded/5e33535f-e6c1-4b0b-aa407e8e38c05cbd.pdf

5 Learn about impacts of diesel exhaust and the diesel emissions. Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, May 19). https://www.epa.gov/dera/learn-about-impacts-diesel-exhaust-and-diesel-emissions-reduction-act-dera

6 Roberts, G. (2021, November 10). Updated: New hgvs will have to be zero-emission by 2040. FleetNews. https://www.fleetnews.co.uk/news/truck-news/2021/11/10/new-hgvs-will-have-to-be-zero-emission-by-2040

7 Opinion for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. (2023, September 19). European Parliament. Retrieved November 13, 2023, from https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/6aff4cd2-a221-11ed-b508-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

8 Reducing CO₂ emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. European Commission. (2023). https://climate.ec.europa.eu/eu-action/transport/road-transport-reducing-co2-emissions-vehicles/reducing-co2-emissions-heavy-duty-vehicles_en

9 E Husna et al 2021 IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 623 012103 DOI 10.1088/1755-1315/623/1/012103

10 Van Ryswyk, K., Evans, G.J., Kulka, R. et al. Personal exposures to traffic-related air pollution in three Canadian bus transit systems: the Urban Transportation Exposure Study. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 31, 628–640 (2021). doi:10.1038/s41370-020-0242-2

11 Dons, E., Int Panis, L., Van Poppel, M., Theunis, J., Willems, H., Torfs, R., & Wets, G. (2011). Impact of time–activity patterns on personal exposure to Black Carbon. Atmospheric Environment, 45(21), 3594–3602. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.03.064

12 Moreno T, Pintó RM, Bosch A, Moreno N, Alastuey A, Minguillón MC, Anfruns-Estrada E, Guix S, Fuentes C, Buonanno G, Stabile L, Morawska L, Querol X. Tracing surface and airborne SARS-CoV-2 RNA inside public buses and subway trains. Environ Int. 2021 Feb;147:106326. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2020.106326. Epub 2020 Dec 9. PMID: 33340987; PMCID: PMC7723781.

Eoleaf's CAR air purifier