"Driving to Work is Probably the Most Unhealthy Part of Your Day"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Provided you have "otherwise healthy habits," Scott Fruin reckons the ultra-fine particulates you inhale during your daily commute are the worst injury your body experiences on a daily basis. The assistant professor of environmental health at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) conducted a "Marco! Polo!" study of those pesky little toxic molecules that can penetrate your cell walls and disperse throughout your body. Ward's reports that the USC team jumped into a camera-equipped electric vehicle and simulated an LA commute, monitoring air quality. "In the 1.5 hours average drivers spend in their cars every day, they are exposed to 33%-45% of the harmful air pollution they breathe in," Fruin reveals. “Shortening your commute and spending less time in the car will significantly reduce your total body burden of harmful pollutants.” (Not to mention the stress of trying to get around slow-moving, taxpayer-funded EVs.) “The extent that (diesel trucks) dominated the highest concentration conditions on freeways was unexpected." But not unwelcome– at least from a legislative point-of-view. Fruin's anti-fine particle stance lines-up nicely with California's campaign to clean-up tailpipe pollutants from the diesel trucks plying its highways and byways, and the California Air Resource Board's insistence on the world's toughest diesel emissions regulations.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Indi500fan Indi500fan on Nov 14, 2007

    As a kid in the 1950s who grew up in Cleveland Ohio city limits, I'm thinking most of my unhealthy air and water was long ago.

  • Heep Heep on Nov 14, 2007

    Haha, paper mill here too. I don't even smell it, but then again, I've pretty much always lived here...

  • Glenn126 Glenn126 on Nov 14, 2007

    Hi Katie, Petrol cars don't pollute any particulates - that's a job left for diesels. I have to admit I was shocked to learn that the size (engine displacement) and RPM of a diesel engine altered the actual SIZE of the dangerous particulates... Particulates seem to be "ashes" on a microscopic scale, I believe. Gasoline vaporizes and ignites, then the Hydrocarbons and Carbon Monoxide and Oxides of Nitrogen pollutants get burned up or altered and made into CO2 and H20 in the catalysts. Diesel spews out amounts of HC, CO and NOx, but also particulates - and catalysts cannot actually clean it all up. Hence, particulate traps (with periodic fuel enrichment regimes to burn the stuff out - all computerized engine control operated) and urea injection (literally kind of like peeing into the exhaust) are needed to even remotely make most car diesels legal for the ultra-strict US standards now in place for CARS. I still get to "enjoy" sharing the roads with the massive pollution of idjits with massive 3/4 ton Dodge pickups and Cummins diesels, with extremely smelly exhausts and exhaust pipes the size of stove pipes. The "new" low sulfur diesel fuel notwithstanding...

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