A New Study Shows Sitting In Traffic Is As Bad For Our Health As It Is For Our Moods

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In the San Francisco Bay area where I live, we have some pretty bad traffic. We’re blessed to have BART, the monorail-like mass transit system, but we’re still ranked as the third worst traffic city in the country for a reason. Traffic jams can be especially hard on your car (all the stopping and starting), but it’s hard on the driver, too.

Not only does sitting in traffic put one in a bad mood, according to a study from the University of Surrey, when you’re stuck in a big traffic mess, pollutant levels can be up to 40 times higher than when traffic is moving. Why? Pollution is going to be more concentrated when all the cars are jammed up together, as opposed to moving down the highway.

traffic jam cars photo
Photo by dmuth

The study points out that the World Health Organization has placed outdoor air pollution among the top 10 health risks faced by humans, noting that it’s linked to 7 million premature deaths a year. Car exhaust is one such pollutant.

So, what to do about it? According to an article on CNET,

The study claims that the best way to beat traffic pollution is to sit in your car with the windows closed and the fan off. Sounds perfect for August. It’s also safe to set your climate control to re-circulate the air already inside the car, which prevents outside pollutants from making their way in.

bad traffic jam photo
Photo by joiseyshowaa

As CNET concludes, about the only way to cut back on the pollution is to get yourself a Prius or a bicycle. I can think of another couple other ways to beat the traffic jam problem. You can do like James Bond did in his movie “Die Another Day”…

traffic jam cars photo
Photo by Shiny Things

Or, if you don’t have a missile-firing Aston Martin—just work from home!

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[h/t: CNET Road/Show]