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Red Light Spells Danger for Air Quality in Cars

February 18, 2015
Environmental Protection

traffic lightsA recent study by scientists at the University of Surrey has discovered that up to 25% of drivers’ exposure to particulates occurs when they are stationary at red lights.

Whilst the research, published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, found that drivers spend just 2% of their commuting time passing through traffic lights, that time period could be responsible for up to a quarter of their exposure to poor in-car air quality. Researchers took measurements at various points of a journey, with five different car ventilation settings in place, including fully open windows.

Dr Prashant Kumar, who led the study, feels drivers should be made aware of the pollution levels inside their vehicles: “It’s not always possible to change your route to avoid these intersections, but drivers should be aware of the increased risks at busy lights,” he said. “Our time spent travelling in cars has increased by over 10% in the last ten years, and with more cars than ever joining the roads, we are being exposed to increasing levels of air pollution as we undertake our daily commutes.”

The greatest reduction in particulates within cars was found to be during free-flowing traffic conditions with the internal fan and heating turned off, when scientists found levels dropped by up to 70%.