Particulate Parade

In addition to the toils of waiting for the train, sitting in traffic, or listening to honking cars on your commute, you’re also putting your health in jeopardy. A new study published by the Clean Air Task Force, a non-profit that fights pollution, shows that commuters inhale more harmful particulates than those who live in downtown areas. According to the report

CATF’s investigation demonstrated that whether you commute by car, bus, ferry, train, or foot, you may be exposed to high levels of diesel fuels. Specifically, CATF documented diesel particle levels four to eight times higher inside commuter cars, buses and trains than in the ambient outdoor air in those cities. In some cases, the ultrafine particle levels during the commutes were so high as to be comparable to driving with a smoker!

The study showed that even though most people only spend about six percent of their time commuting, that’s when they get a whopping 60 percent of their daily exposure to harmful chemicals.

So we know that most people aren’t going to just stop going to work, so what should they do, you ask? Unfortunately there isn’t much they can do. The researchers suggest that people who drive to work roll up their windows and recycle the air in their vehicles. Until the government approves legislation that requires diesel vehicles to install filters—which eliminate all but 10 percent of the harmful particulates—commuters will continue to suffer. And not just because they are smashed in a subway car or stuck in a traffic jam.