Why The Air Inside Your Car May Be Killing You On Your Way To Work
Sitting in LA traffic one day with a headache a memory came back to me of a movie scene - The actor opens a garage door. Out comes a puff of exhaust. The motor is running. There's someone inside the car. And the actor realizes it's a suicide attempt and tries to save the person. So as I sat there in traffic (and in LA you can sit for hours every day) I surprised if I might be slowly killing myself with the fumes coming in my car. I decided to take a closer look at how sitting in traffic might be affecting my health.
I was already guessing it was not going to be pretty.
The Many Problems With Inside-Car Pollution "
The average amount of time spent commuting to and from work has increased steadily since the 80s, with more people driving in excess of forty minutes to work each day. Even with the car windows closed many international studies show that car air pollution inside is even more different than outside pollution.
While it receives little attention, in-car air pollution may pose one of the greatest modern threats to human health
The results of 23 separate scientific studies conducted between 1980-1999 reveal that in-car air pollution levels frequently reach concentrations that may threaten human health.
The air pollution in the interior of automobiles is almost exclusively of gasoline and diesel exhaust. This toxic soup of gases, aerosols, and microscopic particles includes:
- benzene (a known carcinogen)
- carbon monoxide (which interferees with the blood's ability to transport oxygen)
- particulate matter (which studies have associated with increased death rates)
One other new form of pollution is the outgassing in many of the plastics inside the car which now have chemicals to protect the plastics and dash from the sun. They protect the car, but challenge your health.
NOTE: IF YOU HAVE ANY TYPE OF ALLERGIES OR ASTHMA AND DRIVE IN TRAFFIC THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT
Closing The Vents WILL NOT Prevent The Problem
Federal law requires that every car must have 20 percent take, even with vents closed. So even with the vents closed (or your air system set to "recycle") you may not only have toxins, you might actually have a higher percentage of toxins as the air inside is trapped.
OK, so it's bad. Let's turn our attention now to possible solutions.
How To Get Cleaner Car Interior Air
Since all interior air has to go through the ventilation system (with the windows closed of course) the ideal would be to have a built in or optional air purifier from the Original Manufacturer. But the demand is not there from the public. The excpetion is a few high end auto manufacturers (Lexus is one) that have interior auto air filtration systems built in.
What Types Of Supplementary Car Air Purifiers Are Available?
There are hundreds of auto air purifiers coming out of China to the US, ranging from $ 5 to $ 200. The technologies found include:
- Ionic (most popular, cheapest, but not the most effective)
- UV (helpful for bacteria, viruses, germs)
- Active Carbon (effective for odors, smoke, pollution)
- Zeolite (inexpensive yet effective natural volcanic stone which absorbs gases, chemical fumes, etc.)
Most complementary auto air purifiers have 1 or 2 types of technology. And while the market is flooded with ion filters for cars (found on Ebay, etc.) they do a very minimal job. Zeolite is great for absorbing gases but rather than buying a purifier with zeolite I found I can just as easily buy a small bag of zeolite ($ 5), and thread it under the seat of the car. I occasionally put it in the heat of the sun to purge the gas it holds onto.
Do Car Air Purifiers Work?
Yes. They will help, as long as you have the following:
1) a strong fan
2) several air purification technologies (not just ion)
3) Keep the windows closed.
You'll also want it in the front seat or front compartment to counteract the effect of the cars ventilation system.
The small Ionic, plug in, car air purifiers found everywhere (even on Ebay) are cheap but will not do much without a fan.
4 Steps You Can Take For Better Inside Car Air
# 1 Try to avoid driving behind large trucks, diesel trucks and cars whenever possible
# 2 When you get away from traffic open the windows to allow fresh air in, and to allow toxins to escape
# 3 Buy yourself a small bag of zeolite
# 4 If you opt for a small car air purifier look for one that has several purification technologies to capture a wider range of toxins.