Sitting in commuter traffic ‘like smoking 180 cigarettes a year’

Sitting in commuter traffic ‘like smoking 180 cigarettes a year’
Sitting in commuter traffic ‘like smoking 180 cigarettes a year’

Commuters who spend just an hour a day in their cars are unwittingly being exposed to high levels of pollution.

While more than a quarter (28 per cent) of Britons say they are so worried about air pollution that they avoid certain environments, 90 per cent are unaware of the dangers of dirty air in cars and many wrongly believe that being in a car protects them from pollution.

Researchers in the Netherlands have estimated that an hour a day stuck in traffic exposes drivers and their passengers to toxins equivalent to smoking 180 cigarettes a year.

Significant risk

Yet, according to a study by air purifier firm Airlabs, one in five people believes that they don’t need to worry about air pollution while in their car and 59 per cent think they’re at highest risk while walking or cycling beside a busy road.

However, research has suggested that exposure to pollution can be up to 140 per cent higher inside a car, depending on traffic conditions.

Commuter pollution
Exhaust gases and particulates can pass through many cars’ air filters and into the cabin. Picture: Shutterstock

Marc Ottolini, CEO of Airlabs, said: “Most people don’t realise just how polluted the air they’re breathing inside their car really is. Levels can be several times higher in vehicles than outside. This is because harmful gases from exhausts can pass straight through car air filters and accumulate inside a car, posing a significant health risk.

“In fact, for the average car commuter who sits in traffic for just one hour each day, exposure to air pollution inside their vehicle is the equivalent to passively smoking 180 cigarettes each year.

“We all understand the risks of smoking and passive smoking, but a lot of people don’t realise that just being in a vehicle can be highly damaging to your health too. We want people to understand these risks and help them make the car a healthier environment.”

Unavoidable exposure

Airlabs claims to have developed a solution to the in-car pollution with the world’s first in-car air purifier.

The airbubbl portable device mounts onto the rear headrest of a car and traps nitrogen dioxide and other gases on a unique, patented, carbon filter and removes particulates.

According to the Airlabs survey, more than half of Britons (56 per cent) say that they are concerned about the long-term effects of air pollution exposure on health; with two in five (41 per cent) believing that air pollution exposure is now a part of everyday life, and that they think there is nothing they can do to avoid it.

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