Hazardous exhaust fumes from mobile machinery

Consumers affected by emissions of mobile machinery exceeding limit values

A relevant number of handheld machinery is sold on the European market illegally. Consumers can neither trust the label for legal conformity (CE label) nor distinguish between good and bad devices as far as emissions are concerned. As a consumer protection organization authorized to file law suits we want to make sure that limit values for hazardous emission are complied with by all machines sold in Europe.

The limit values established in EU Directive 97/68/EC and its amending acts for non-road mobile machinery aim at protecting human health and the environment by limiting the emission of hazardous substances contained in the exhaust gas. Negative impacts from those emissions from motor saws or brush cutters are aggravated by the fact that they are emitted close to the user´s body and head. The most dangerous substances are carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), nitrogen oxide (NOx).

DUH is raising awareness among responsible authorities and the public. We carried out intense public relations work, own research on market surveillance and had in-depth conversations with policy-makers at federal and regional level as well as competent authorities. DUH focuses on four target groups: manufacturers, consumer markets, market surveillances authorities and approval authorities.

Emission measurements 2015
DUH commissioned a measurement of eight chain saws and four brush cutters in 2014 carried out by TÜV Nord. The results showed that eight out of twelve engines exceed the limit values for CO, HC and NOx.

Emission measurements 2016
In total, 18 of the 24 device types significantly exceeded the limit values for HC+NOx (total of hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions). Only seven of the 33 objects tested complied with the current limit value level II of Directive 97/68/EC in its version 2012/46/EU. On seven of the tested machines it was not possible to find or read the type approval number. In six of the devices bought on the German market, the carburetor could be unrestrictedly adjusted by the user.

The results above show, that motor saws and brush cutters are distributed in Europe which pose a danger to user health and contaminate the air for years. To protect consumer effectively from emissions, market surveillance, including emission tests, is urgently needed. The measures taken so far by public authorities in Europe are not consistent enough.

Therefore DUH demands the following:

  • Valid legislation must be complied with by all market actors. In particular, limit values protecting the environment and human health must be met.
  • Consistent and coordinated market surveillance by all competent national authorities is needed.
  • Establishment of specific obligations subject to sanctions for all market players by European legislators.
  • The emission behavior of handheld machinery must be constantly improved.


Background: Mobile Machinery

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Copyright: DUH/ Andreas Kochloeffel

Agnes Sauter
Leiterin Verbraucherschutz
E-Mail: Mail schreiben

Copyright: DUH / Heidi Scherm

Dorothee Saar
Leiterin Verkehr und Luftreinhaltung
E-Mail: Mail schreiben

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