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Commuting could be killing you

April 9, 2008 4:18:28 PM PDT
If you don't smoke and you have pretty healthy habits, your car ride to and from work may be the most unhealthy part of your day.Your commute could be killing you.

"The air coming into your car is the worst air in the whole city," said Scott Fruin, an assistant professor of environmental health medicine in Los Angeles.

An electric car tracked just how much pollution drivers are exposed to and found that L.A. commuters spend an average of 90 minutes sucking in diesel fuel fumes and ultra-fine particles or UFP every day.

These particles are smaller than .001, about the size of a human hair, and can penetrate cell walls, enter the bloodstream and disperse throughout the body. They have been linked to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

"They get deepest into your lungs. They get into your bloodstream, and those are particularly high on freeways and busy roads," Fruin said.

The American Heart Association found high concentrations of diesel exhaust increases clot formation by almost 25 percent, which could lead to deadly cardiovascular problems.

The University of Southern California study found the biggest commute concerns come from diesel truck fumes and cars that hit the gas pedal too hard, kicking up the deadly particles into the air and into your car.

"If you don't smoke, it's the next worse environment," Fruin said.

Researchers recommend driving with windows up and setting the air on re-circulate, but the best way to survive the commute is to cut your commute.

Studies have shown as little as two hours on the road a day can impact your heart health. Sounds like a lot, but that's just an hour commute each way.

Taking a train and exercising are also great ways to combat the effects of pollution on health.

 

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