Stuck in Traffic, Polluting the Inside of Our Cars
The average American commuter spent 50 hours in traffic last year. As a nation, we spent eight billion hours sitting in our cars, waiting for lights to change, for the driver ahead to sneak into that parking spot, for an accident to be cleared.
That’s not much more time than many Europeans spend in cars. According to Inrix, a roadway and traffic analytics company, drivers and passengers in Belgium spent 44 hours in traffic last year; in Germany, 39 hours.
Wherever it happens, new research suggests that all that sitting and waiting is exposing us to more pollutants than we’d take in if were we cruising along.
According to a study published Thursday in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, pollution levels inside cars at red lights or in traffic jams are up to 40 percent higher than when traffic is moving.
根据上周四发表在《环境科学：过程与影响》(Processes & Impacts)上的一项研究，等红灯或者堵在路上之际，车内污染物的含量比交通顺畅时高出40%。
Air quality is already a problem outside of cars: More than 80 percent of people living in cities where pollution is tracked are exposed to air quality levels below World Health Organization limits. The W.H.O. has estimated that poor air quality is responsible for the deaths of 3.7 million people younger than 60 in 2012.
车外的空气质量已经成问题了：污染水平受到追踪的那些城市的居民，超过80%暴露在质量未达世界卫生组织（World Health Organization，简称WHO）所设限值的大气中。据WHO估计，2012年，糟糕的空气质量是导致370万不满60岁的人死亡的原因。
Researchers at the University of Surrey in England took to the streets of Guildford, “a typical English town,” to look at the effects of traffic on concentrations of polluting particles. They also analyzed how ventilation settings changed those concentrations inside of cars.
英国萨里大学(University of Surrey)的研究人员走上“典型英式城镇”吉尔福德的街头，研究交通堵塞对颗粒污染物浓度的影响。他们还分析了通风设置会如何改变车内污染浓度。
The scientists took their measurements inside a car as it traveled on a six-kilometer loop, passing through 10 traffic intersections. They tracked the concentrations of different-size particles of air pollution — ranging from course to fine — at each intersection.
In a car stuck in traffic, shutting all the windows and turning off the fan or heat reduced concentration doses of the smallest, most hazardous particles by up to 76 percent.
The researchers also found an increase in smaller particles inside the vehicle compared with larger ones when the heat was off and fans were on full blast, drawing in air from outside. Those findings suggest that the ventilation system was more effective at filtering out larger particles than smaller ones while stopped at intersections, reducing the concentration doses of those particles up to 68 percent, they said.
And while they were only at traffic intersections for about 7 percent of total commuting time on average, the time accounted for as much as 10 percent of their exposure to harmful particles. The exposure was more than six times greater in cars with open windows than for pedestrians at three- or four-way intersections.
So when you’re stopped at an intersection, roll up the windows, and breathe easier.