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How much air pollution you’re exposed to in traffic depends on if you use air-conditioning or not

We know that air pollution from traffic jams is harmful to people living in a city, causing all sorts of short- and long-term health problems for people who have to breathe the bad air. But one group of unexpected people is especially at risk, and more so in cities in the developing world with notably bad air: people driving in cars without air-conditioning. Drivers in poorer countries where air-conditioned cars aren’t common can be exposed to 80% more air pollution than if they had AC, just because they need to keep their windows down while driving.

A team of researchers from 10 different cities, in an effort led by the University of Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research, analyzed air pollution exposure levels for commuters in their respective metropolises: Dhaka, Bangladesh; Chennai, India; Guangzhou, China; Medellín, Colombia; São Paulo, Brazil; Cairo, Egypt; Sylaymaniyah, Iraq; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Blantyre, Malawi; and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

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