Our current modes of transport do not protect drivers or passengers from breathing environmental hazards in the air around them, and without actively preventing in-cabin contamination, air pollutants can rapidly accumulate within vehicles.
We Spend a Lot of Time on the Road
An average person spends around 3-4 years of their life on the road, either driving or as a passenger. Further, most people are exposed to higher levels of pollution on the road than anywhere else. In addition to the serious long-term health effects of unmanaged and prolonged air pollution exposure, air pollution can also cause serious health impacts in the short term. For example, a 14-day average PM2.5 exposure of 7.07 μg/m3 or higher has been linked to an estimated 4-5% increase in asthma symptom occurrence.
Air pollution exposure is also known to impact cognition and decision-making, with especially serious consequences for those required to be alert and aware while driving: one study examining air quality’s impact on decision making in 596 chess games found a 10 μg/m3 increase in indoor PM2.5 concentration increased player error probability by 26.3%.
Air Quality In-Cabin Can Often be Worse than the Outdoors
Experts say that in some scenarios, like when we’re stuck directly behind a truck or another polluting vehicle during rush hour traffic, in-cabin pollution can be 9-12 times higher than outdoor pollution levels. Research into average pollution exposure over a 96-hour period found that professional drivers in London were exposed to four times the amount of black carbon pollution while driving than at home - 4.1 µg/m³.
This amount was also a third higher than the measurements recorded at one of London’s busiest roads (3.1 µg/m³). The study also found that as drivers moved across London, black carbon pollution inside the vehicle often exceeded 100 µg/m³ - much higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended exposure safety limits for 24-hour periods (15 μg/m3 for PM2.5 and 45 μg/m3 for PM10).