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American researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Duke University and Emory University assessed the level of danger posed by the driver during the hours of maximum load, breathing the air in the car. Their work told Phys.Org.

“We found that men faced double the risk to health during the peak hours, – said Michael Bergin, Professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University. – If these substances are so harmful, according to many scientists, the owners should seriously reconsider your schedule of driving”.

Most of the existing sensors of the air pollution along the roads, they report the observers average score for 24 hours. However, these sensors are unable to capture short-term changes in the composition of the air caused by traffic and climatic conditions . In a separate clock the contents of particulate matter and other harmful substances in the air can greatly exceed the average result, which could adversely affect the health of being in the way of man.

Scientists have developed a special device and put it on the passenger seat of the car during the trip to measure the polluted air that we breathe, the driver in the cabin. Feature of the device is that it transmits through the air at about the same pace as the lungs, analyzing its composition in real time. The measurements were carried out during 60 trips 30 cars. Some drivers moving along the highway, while others stood in traffic the Central part of Atlanta.

It was found that during peak hours the solids content in the cabin twice exceeded indicators of road sensors, also cabin air contained twice as much active oxygen species that cause oxidative stress – a set of dangerous to the health of the oxidative processes in the body that lead to cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Reactive oxygen species (some derivatives of oxygen, called reactive oxygen species) are highly toxic and are considered very aggressive. They trigger oxidative processes, damaging and even destroying the cells.

Oxidative stress causes damage most important to a living organism of polymers such as nucleic acids, proteins and lipids. In DNA, reactive oxygen species cause oxidation of bases, breaks, and modification of circuits, which in turn leads to mutations, causing either cell death, or malignant degeneration. Oxidative processes have not only cancer but also chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation and even autism.

“You can argue about which kinds of pollution are most dangerous, and what makes them so, – said Burgin. – The point is that being behind the wheel during rush hour is even worse than we thought”.

“I believe that this can be blamed on bad urban planning, said Roby Greenwald, assistant Professor, Department of medical ecology at the University of Georgia. In the case of the city of Atlanta’s bad air quality on the highway due to the fact that in urban areas live 6 million people, and get to work, school or just to the store, they can only by car. Autocentric transport planning is not suitable for cities of this size, and this is another example of how traffic jams can adversely affect health.”

Material provided by the project of “1”.