Apart from wasting your time, long traffic jams may cause your body to be exposed to toxic fumes and potentially increase the percentage of catching a health disease including cancer. According to World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to outdoor air pollution is among the top ten health risks faced by humans and is especially pronounced in urban concentrations. In October, 2013, WHO classified outdoor air pollution as being carcinogenic to humans. Researches showed that when vehicles stop at red lights, they undergo through different driving cycles such as idling, acceleration and deceleration which finally leads to emission of toxic fumes.
These emissions take a lot of time to disperse, especially in built-up areas and end up near the atmosphere at the traffic signals. Thus, the people inside cars, with closed windows but with fans switched on, can be at an increased risk of exposure to the outdoor pollutants, the researchers said. The fan works on the mechanism on sucking dirty air from outside to inside by filtration methods but still pollutants which tend to pass through the filters accumulate inside the car. However, it may be relatively safe to put fans onto the setting where they re-circulate air within the car without drawing polluted air in from outside, the study stated.
“Where possible and with weather conditions allowing, it is one of the best ways to limit your exposure by keepin g 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 would be to have the air re-circulating within the car without drawing in air from outdoors”, Kumar added. The new research, published in the journal Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, has found that pedestrians are also exposed to increased air pollution around traffic signals. So, it is most advisable to re-circulate the fresh air inside of the car to prevent the risk of exposure.
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