Air pollution more harmful to children in cars than outside, warns ...

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Walking or cycling to school is better for children’s health as cars are ‘boxes collecting toxic gases’ says David King

Children are at risk of dangerous levels of air pollution in cars because exposure to toxic air is often far higher inside than outside vehicles, a former government chief scientific adviser has warned.

“Children sitting in the backseat of vehicles are likely to be exposed to dangerous levels [of air pollution],” said King. “You may be driving a cleaner vehicle but your children are sitting in a box collecting toxic gases from all the vehicles around you.”

range of experiments, some as far back as 2001, have shown that drivers inside vehicles are exposed to far higher levels of air pollution than those walking or cycling along the same urban routes.

Prof Stephen Holgate, an asthma expert at Southampton University and chair of the Royal College of Physicians working party on air pollution, said there was enough evidence to tell parents that walking and cycling exposes their children to less air pollution than driving.

“It is nine to 12 times higher inside the car than outside,” he said. “Children are in the back of the car and often the car has the fans on, just sucking the fresh exhaust coming out of the car or lorry in front of them straight into the back of the car.” [emphasis mine]

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