Environment Health Transport

The ‘poisonous cabin’

Unsurprisingly enough, and as previously indicated from small scale tests, sitting in a car or other vehicle is the most air-polluted place to be according to new research reported in the Times (“Motorists in ‘poisonous cabin’ alert”).

“If you are stopped in congested traffic with your windows closed, as at traffic lights, then these toxins become highly concentrated,” said Prashant Kumar, professor of environmental engineering at Surrey University. His findings suggest concentrations are often 10 times higher in such cars than on nearby pavements.

Mike Hawes, of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said there were no regulations on air quality in vehicles but the UN was overseeing talks to develop a new global standard.

“The industry . . . is investing billions to engineer low-emission technology, from engines and exhausts to cabin filters,” he said. Car makers had made “considerable progress”, with new cars emitting reduced particulates and NOx [oxides of nitrogen].

So not only are you contributing to the problem with your engine, you are also exposing yourself and your passengers to the worst effects of the resulting air pollution.

The internal combustion engine has got to go, packing thousands of them into our streets and roads is no longer an option.