is among the top ten health risks faced by people and is also
study states that pollution levels inside cars idling in traffic can be
40% higher compared to cars moving unabated.
- Sitting inside cars with closed windows but with fans switched on causes the fan to suck dirty air from outside to inside the vehicle, resulting in
an accumulation of pollutants in the car.
- Changing the fan settings in
such a manner that it re-circulates the air within the car without drawing
in pollutants from outside and keeping windows closed is the best way to
Getting stuck in long traffic lines may cause exposure to toxic fumes, and
potentially increase various health risks, including cancer, revealed a study by the
research team at the University Of Surrey. In London, air pollutants
kill more than ten times the number
of people than traffic accidents do.
The study, led by an Indian
researcher, has found that pollution levels inside cars stuck in traffic can be
40% higher compared to when cars are freely moving down the road. Previous studies have shown that drivers stuck at traffic lights
were exposed up to 29 times more harmful pollution particles than those driving
in free flowing traffic. The World Health Organization has classified air pollution as
being carcinogenic to humans and is among the top ten health risks faced by
humans especially by those residing in the urban areas.
‘One of the best ways to limit exposure to pollutants while in traffic jams or stationary traffic lights is to keep car windows rolled up, fans turned off and to try and increase the distance between your vehicle and the one in front.’
The findings showed
that when vehicles stop at traffic
signals, they go through different driving cycles such as
idling, acceleration and deceleration and emission of toxic fumes. High concentration of vehicles in
one area spewing pollutants leaves a cloud of emissions that take more
time to disperse and they
end up accumulating in the air at traffic signals, through which the drivers must
This exposure is not limited to traffic
exposure increases at traffic lights as well which feature idling vehicles
throughout the day.
When people sit inside cars with closed windows but with fans switched on, they can be at
an increased risk of exposure to the outdoor pollutants, the researchers said as the fan sucks
the polluted air from outside to the inside, resulting in an accumulation of
pollutants in the car.
Changing the fan settings to where they re-circulate air within the car without drawing in polluted air
and leaving the windows closed is the best way to beat pollution. The
researchers found that this practice showed a 76% reduction in the "in-cabin"
exposure to PMI (particulate matter of 1 micron or less in diameter and
thought to be the most harmful).
"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," said Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey. "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," Kumar added.
published in the journal Environmental Science: Processes and
recommends the windows-closed-fan-off combination for the best reduction
The new research has found that
pedestrians are also exposed to increased air pollution around traffic signals.