Commuters could cut their air pollution intake in half simply by using the side streets in major cities rather than main roads, a scientist has claimed. Dr Rossa Brugha, a paediatrician and pollution researcher at Queen Mary, University of London, discovered that walkers can make small adjustments to their route which could have major benefits on their health.
Long-term exposure to air pollution contributes to around 28,000 deaths each year, government figures suggest. The most recent statistics from Public Health England PHE suggest that 5.3 per cent of all deaths in over-25s are linked to air pollution, but that leaps to 8.3 per cent in inner London.
However Dr Brugha found that pollution, primarily caused by traffic, falls off rapidly just a few metres away from main roads.
He tested the theory while walking the two miles between Waterloo Station in London and the British Library, and found that by switching to side streets, the recorded level of air pollution he experienced fell by half.
“The most important thing is being away from the traffic,” he said.
“If you are walking home from work at rush hour or when you’re walking to your office in the morning, veer off into the side streets and the air will be cleaner.
“You can cut air pollution by half by going a different route, which will have incremental health benefits.”
Dr Brugha claims that pollution in cities can be the equivalent of smoking half a cigarette per day and is particularly damaging for children, because their lungs are still developing.
He advises parents to look carefully at routes to school to avoid the busiest roads.
“Children get one third of pollution from their route to school so parents can help their children by trying to find a better route, which takes them away from the traffic.”
Dr Brugha will be presenting findings at the British Science Festival in Birmingham next week.
via Cut air pollution in half by taking road less travelled – Telegraph.