Deadly traffic jams?

car exhaust fumes

Published on 1 September 2016 by Robert Drane

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Road users breathe in 40% more pollution at red lights in queues or at busy junctions according to researchers from the University of Surrey.

The scientists focused primarily on the effects to car drivers, saying that the amount of pollution breathed in can be easily reduced by closing windows and switching off fans in situations of heavy traffic.

Motorcyclists don’t have any windows to close, so should follow the additional recommendation that motorists should leave space between themselves and the rear of the vehicle in front, allowing exhaust gases to disperse.

Dr Prashant Kumar, University of Surrey, said: “Our recent study has shown in some cases as low as 2% of the commuting time spent at traffic intersections could contribute as high as 25% of the total commuting exposure to particle number concentrations (PNCs).”

According to the Daily Mail, evidence from Dr Kumar showed that “last year drivers stuck at traffic lights were exposed up to 29 times more harmful pollution particles than those driving in free flowing traffic”. The newspaper also cites research by Auckland University of Technology which shows that one in three strokes are caused by air pollution. Currently, 3.3 million premature deaths each year are caused by the pollution – a figure that is expected to double by 2050.

 


Main image by Ruben de Rijcke (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons