False comfort

Published: Monday 15 May 2000

travelling in the comfort of an air-conditioned ( ac ) car has far worse implications on health than cycling or even walking.

According to a recent study conducted by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board, people cosseted in their ac four-wheelers are exposed to as much as five times the toxins than pedestrians on the roads. They also inhale volatile organic compounds up to six times more than those who are exposed to the outside air.

The study states that people travelling in cars pass through a "tunnel of pollutants," with toxins emitted by the exhausts of the car in front being inhaled by the passengers behind. According to a senior official of the state pollution control board, the study, the first of its kind in the country, was undertaken in Calcutta in February this year, during peak office hours. The official said, "Level of carcinogens like benzene and carbon monoxide are far more inside a car than outside on the city's pavements."

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