October 19, 2005

Air inside car said to be more harmful than outside

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - It is healthier to walk along a busy
road and breathe in exhaust fumes than to sit in the comfort of
an airconditioned car, a U.S. researcher said on Wednesday.

Robert Baker, president of the non-profit U.S. Indoor Air
Quality Association, said American scientists have found the
air inside cars to be more contaminated than the air outside,
even in urban areas.

This was due to unfiltered air from exhaust fumes and
chemical smells from car seats, audio equipment and air

"The air in an indoor space does not clean itself, unlike
the outdoors, where air travels," Baker told a news conference
at the launch of a Singapore Web site on car cabin air quality.

The site, www.healthycarcabin.org.sg, says prolonged
exposure to bad cabin air can cause cancer and respiratory
diseases. Drivers often install air cleaning devices, such as
airconditioner filters.

The biggest pollutants in indoor spaces, however, are
people, said Baker.

"We release gases, bacteria and fungi into the air. The
more people there are in an enclosed area, the more harmful it
is," he said.

One solution was to open the car's windows, though the Web
site recommends doing so only along country roads.