Helpful Tips To Limit Pollution Exposure When Driving in Traffic

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Sitting in Traffic Jams Is Not Good For You!

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Being trapped in congested traffic can be stressful. But the worst thing about sitting in a traffic jam is the health risks linked to exposure to pollution.

Thanks to research, here are suggested helpful ways to minimize breathing in toxic fumes while sitting held up in traffic.

The latest research from the University of Surrey revealed that simple adjustments to a car’s ventilation system while in traffic can greatly reduce one’s exposure to toxic fumes by up to 76%.

What Are These Helpful Tips?

In congested traffic, or at red traffic lights with other vehicles stationary in front, research has shown if a driver closes the car windows and switches off the fan, it gave the lowest exposure to pollutants.

In addition, the research suggests using fans to re-circulate air within the car without drawing polluted air from outside.

Senior author of the research, Dr Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey, said:

Where possible and with weather conditions allowing, it is one of the best ways to limit your exposure by keeping windows shut, fans turned off and to try and increase the distance between you and the car in front while in traffic jams or stationary at traffic lights. If the fan or heater needs to be on, the best setting would be to have the air re-circulating within the car without drawing in air from outdoors.”

Avoid These Habits

The researchers found that with windows closed, and the fan on, exposure was highest while in traffic. We all know that air outside the vehicle is generally much more polluted than air inside the car. Thus, switching on the fan sucks dirty air from outside to inside the vehicle resulting in an accumulation of pollutants in the car.

In addition, the research showed that when vehicles stop at red lights, they go through different driving cycles such as idling, acceleration and deceleration. At the same time, a number of other vehicles queued at red lights, emit further emissions and exhaust.

The Dangers of Outdoor Pollution

Outdoor pollution can kill too. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) placed outdoor air pollution among the top ten health risks faced by humans. Outdoor pollution caused seven million premature deaths a year.

The problem is especially evident in urban cities. WHO classifies outdoor air pollution as being as carcinogenic to humans in October 2013 as smoking in February 1985.

Smog pollution in a traffic jam.
Exhaust from vehicles causes outdoor pollution.

In London, WHO reported that air pollution kills more than 10-times the number of people dying from road traffic accidents. There were an estimated 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.