Inside The Car: Your own private pollution zone
I’ve heard from several places that cyclists, out in the open air of our cities, are actually exposed to fewer chemical nasties than drivers of cars. It sounds a little counter-intuitive, when you think about the clouds of exhaust gasses we ride through, while drivers have their windows shut and the aircon keeping them cool.
But when you think about it, most cars’ ventilation systems aren’t completely sealed, and their intakes are more or less at the level of the car in front’s exhaust pipe. Most of us cycle with our heads a good couple of feet higher than that, in the clearer air. So a car is like a pollution concentrator, while cycling’s more like having a snorkel above the fug.
ANYWAY . . . EcoVelo tracked down some figures on this issue of relative pollution exposure for cyclists & motorists. They were based on serious academic research, and tell the story more eloquently than I ever could:
|Cyclists (µg/m3)||Motorists (µg/m3)|
|Carbon monoxide (CO)||2670||6730|
|Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)||156||277|
So breathe easy - yet again cycling is shown to be good for you.