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giovedì 10 gennaio 2019

Cyclists are the least exposed to air pollution

Cyclists are the least exposed to air pollution on daily commutes into a congested city centre, research has shown. People in cars and buses spent longer in toxic air, as did walkers unless they made detours to avoid main roads.

The work, conducted in Leeds, supports the investment in cycle lanes to both reduce air pollution by cutting vehicle journeys and improve citizens’ health. It also found that air pollution reached relatively high levels inside cars, echoing a recent warning that cars are “boxes collecting toxic gases”.

Air pollution: everything you should know about a public health emergency

The new research used high-quality portable pollution-measuring equipment to track rush-hour commutes of 4km (2.5 miles) into and out of Leeds city centre in June. All the commuters set off at the same time, and the cyclists were by far the fastest, arriving in 11 minutes, half the time of bus and car travellers.

The cyclists were exposed to a total of 12m pollution particles during their journey, almost half the number encountered by those in buses and cars. Cyclists may breathe more rapidly as they exercise, which would bring the particles they inhale up to close to that of motorised transport users. But on routes with slow traffic, where car and bus commuters are forced to sit in clouds of pollution, cyclists fare best.

On more congested routes, the cyclist would come out with the lowest inhaled dose,” said James Tate, at the University of Leeds, who led the work. Segregated cycle lanes would reduce cyclists’ exposure even more, he said, with a distance of even a metre or two from traffic cutting particles by about a quarter. “Cycle lanes mean you can skip past traffic,” he said. Other research shows the exercise benefits of cycling outweigh the harm of air pollution.

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