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 Rush Hour Pollution Deadlier Than Thought

Rush Hour Pollution Deadlier Than Thought

by Shubhangi Jena July 25 2017, 5:39 pm

You are quite aware of the health-hazards that seems to be added by the billowing smoke into the air behind a distantly fading lights of the car. Rush hours can be aptly quoted as an inescapable prison. Little does one pay any attention to check how deadly these enveloping smoke can be and it turns out they are baleful than you know.

A recent study by the Duke University reveals that exposure to pollution during rush-hour traffic is far more hazardous than previously thought. The summary of the research as presented by Duke University goes as ‘Everyone knows that exposure to pollution during rush hour traffic can be hazardous to your health, but it's even worse than previously thought. In-car measurements of pollutants that cause oxidative stress found exposure levels for drivers to be twice as high as previously believed.’

In order to discover what elements are the drivers exactly being exposed to during rush hour researchers from Duke University, Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology conducted a research by strapping specially devised sampling devices on the passenger seats of cars. The findings were disturbing: the devices detected twice the amount of particulate matter as much as you detect using roadside sensors. Moreover, the research team also noted that the pollution contained twice the amount of chemicals that cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is believed to be the mainspring of many maladies such as respiratory, cardiac, neurodegenerative or carcinogenic diseases.

"There are a lot of reasons an in-car air sample would find higher levels of certain kinds of air pollution," said Heidi Vreeland, a doctoral student in Bergin's lab and first author of the paper. "The chemical composition of exhaust changes very quickly, even in the space of just a few feet. And morning sun heats the roadways, which causes an updraft that brings more pollution higher into the air."

Roby Grenwald, a research assistant professor at Emory built this sampling device. It has been so devised to absorb as much air as human lungs would inhale and then the team place it on passenger seats. The reactive oxygen species found in this study can cause to body to produce newer chemicals to combat with the reactive oxygen. Particulate matters trigger the same sort of response in our bodies. If taken together, this exposure causes overreaction that can destroy healthy cells and DNA.

Michael Bergin, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University says, “"There's still a lot of debate about what types of pollution are cause for the biggest concern and what makes them so dangerous," Bergin said. "But the bottom line is that driving during rush hour is even worse than we thought."

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