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Waiting at traffic lights exposes drivers to high levels of air pollution

Last Update 06/04/2021

Researchers in the UK have found that waiting at red lights, even for fairly short periods of time, exposes drivers to significant levels of air pollution.


Researchers in the UK have found that waiting at red lights, even for fairly short periods of time, exposes drivers to significant levels of air pollution.

Pollutants given off by car exhausts have been linked to a range of health issues, including lung conditions like asthma.

The study, published in the journal, Atmospheric Environment, examined the amounts of pollutants motorists were exposed to whilst driving around a 6km route that included 10 sets of traffic lights. The route was tested with five different levels of ventilation in the car, e.g. using in-car heating, fans, and with the windows open.

The scientists found that pollution levels were 29 times higher around traffic lights than in free-flowing traffic.

They also noted that drivers could try to reduce in-car pollutant levels whilst waiting at traffic lights by keeping car windows shut, turning off fans and increasing the distance between their car and the one in front where possible.

The researchers also called for local authorities to make changes to transport systems to try to reduce the amount of time spent waiting in queues of traffic.

Read the original news story.

Read the abstract of the journal article.

Find out more about the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign, which is raising awareness of the importance of clean air

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