Driving with the window open leads to 80% more in-car air pollution, according to a new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Researchers from the University of Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) investigated air pollution exposure levels for commuters in 10 different cities across the world.
They investigated the levels of particulate matter (PM2.5) inside vehicles during peak hours in the morning and evening, as well as off-peak hours in the middle of the day. The scientists also measured how exposure levels changed when drivers used recirculation systems, fans or simply opened the car window.
Irrespective of the city and car model used, the researchers found that a window-open setting showed the highest air pollution exposure.
Commuters who turned on their recirculation were exposed to around 80% less harmful pollutants than those who opened their car windows.
When the windows were open during off-peak hours, pollution exposure was 91% and 40% less than during the morning and evening peak hours, respectively.
Professor Prashant Kumar, director of GCARE at the University of Surrey, said: ‘To be blunt, we need as many cars as possible off the road, or more green vehicles to reduce air pollution exposure.
‘This is yet a distant dream in many ODA countries. Air-conditioned cars are unattainable for many poor and vulnerable commuters across the world, but our data is clear and coherent for all 10 participating cities.
‘We must now work with our global partners to make sure they have the information needed to put in place programmes, policies and strategies to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and find realistic solutions to these serious problems.’
Professor Abdus Salam from the University of Dhaka added: ‘The study has drawn important conclusions that can help commuters make decisions in their day-to-day lives to protect their health.
‘Simple choices, like travelling during off-peak hours, can go a long way in reducing their exposure to air pollution.’
Photo Credit – Pixabay