by Iswarya on  August 11, 2020 at 10:20 AM Environmental Health
Driving with Car Windows Open can Expose You to More Pollution
Think twice before rolling down your car windows for fresh air next time because the windows-open setting can expose car passengers to hotspots of air pollution. The findings of the study are published in the journal Science of The Total Environment.

For the study, the research team investigated air pollution exposure levels for commuters in 10 different global cities across the world, including Chennai.

"To be blunt, we need as many cars as possible off the road, or more green vehicles to reduce air pollution exposure," said study researcher Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey in the UK.

"Air-conditioned cars are unattainable for many poor and vulnerable commuters across the world, but our data is clear and coherent for all ten participating cities," Kumar added.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year, and nine out of 10 people breathe air with high levels of pollutants.

The research team investigated PM2.5 and PM10 exposure levels inside vehicles during peak hours in the morning and evening, as well as off-peak hours in the middle of the day.

The scientists measured how exposure levels changed when drivers used recirculation systems, fans, and simply opened the windows.

The study discovered that drivers in some of the world's poorest cities experienced higher levels of in-car pollution.

Irrespective of the city and car model used, a windows-open setting showed the highest exposure, followed by fan-on and recirculation.

Pollution exposure for windows-open during off-peak hours was 91 percent and 40 percent less than morning and evening peak hours, respectively.

The study also found that the windows-open setting exposed car passengers to hotspots of air pollution for up to a third of the total travel length.

The findings also showed that commuters who turn on the recirculation are exposed to around 80 percent less harmful particles than those who open their car windows.

Car cabin filters were more effective in removing pollution than fine particles, suggesting that if new cars had more efficient filters, it could reduce the overall exposure of car commuters.

"The study has drawn important conclusions that can help commuters make decisions in their day-to-day lives to protect their health," said study researcher Abdus Salam from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh.

"Simple choices, like traveling during off-peak hours, can go a long way in reducing their exposure to air pollution," Salam said.

Source: IANS

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