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Air Pollution Inside Your Car?

Oct 27, 2014 03:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
If hanging a little tree-shaped thingy from your rearview mirror is your idea of making sure the air inside your car is clean, you should probably pay particular attention to this HealthSpan.

Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California (USC) were curious as to how much air pollution reaches people inside their vehicles. The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, measured the exposure by age of the vehicle, the speed, and the type of pollutant. What was the conclusion? “Short of driving less, putting your ventilation to ‘recirculate’ is the best way to reduce exposure to all types of vehicle-related particulate pollution,” study senior author Scott Fruin explained. “Otherwise, an hour-long commute to work or school can double your daily exposure to traffic-related particulate air pollutants,” he added.

Compared to ventilation settings that brought in outside air, pressing the recirculate button can reduce pollution down to 20 percent of what’s going on outside the car. All tests were conducted with the windows closed, of course.

Bottom Line: Levels were lower in newer cars, at slower speeds, and when driving on non-freeways. Pollutants are five to 10 times higher on highways, researchers revealed.
—S.H.