New Groundbreaking Research Links Air Pollution To Traffic Accidents
A study by the London School of Economics has linked high air pollution to an increase in traffic accidents.
Road traffic pollution as you know, is bad in the majority of big cities across England. If you live down in London however, it is a different story. When you venture around the center of London. There’s a permanent dark mist around the city.
This undoubtedly is down to the pollution in the air. Interestingly, studies from LSE, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment indicate there’s a small increase in the level of nitrogen dioxide in the air. The small increase of nitrogen dioxide in the air could be linked to the rise in the number of traffic accidents in the United Kingdom.
Air pollution consists of many harmful gases. These include:
Sulfur dioxide: Coal, petroleum, and other fuels are often impure and contain sulfur as well as organic (carbon-based) compounds. This gas contributes to smog, acid rain, and health problems that include lung disease.
Carbon monoxide: This highly dangerous gas forms when fuels have too little oxygen to burn completely. It spews out in car exhausts and it can also build up to dangerous levels inside your home.
Carbon dioxide: This gas is central to everyday life and isn’t normally considered a pollutant: we all produce it when we breathe out and plants such as crops and trees need to “breathe” it in to grow. However, carbon dioxide is also a greenhouse gas released by engines and power plants.
Nitrogen oxides: Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxide (NO) are pollutants produced as an indirect result of combustion, when nitrogen and oxygen from the air react together. Nitrogen oxide pollution comes from vehicle engines and power plants, and plays an important role in the formation of acid rain, ozone and smog.
With all these harmful gases in the air. Nobody can be surprised to know these gases can have a negative effect on the mind and affect you in a small way.
Analysis by researcher Lutz Sager, which is based on data for the period between 2009 and 2014, claims that a rise in the average concentration of nitrogen dioxide of just one microgramme per cubic metre is enough to increase the average number of accidents each day by 2%, with the biggest effect occurring in cities.
Mr Sager said: “Although it has already been shown that air pollution adversely affects human health and the ability to carry out mental tasks, this is the first published study that assesses the impact on road safety.”
Mr Sager said: “My main theory is that air pollution impairs drivers’ fitness. However, other explanations are possible such as air pollution causing physical distractions, perhaps an itching nose, or limiting visibility.”
He added: “Whatever the exact mechanisms responsible, the robust finding of a significant effect of air quality on road safety is important given the high cost of road traffic accidents through damage to vehicles and deaths and injuries to people every day.
“Although this analysis has used data for the United Kingdom, I think my findings are relevant to other parts of the world. These additional costs from traffic accidents strengthen the case for reducing air pollution, particularly in congested cities.”
According to the calculations, in areas like west London, which suffers from some of the highest levels of air pollution, a cut of about 30% in the concentration of nitrogen dioxide could reduce the number of road accidents every day by almost 5%.
Mr Sager said: “My analysis suggests that the causal effect of air pollution on road traffic accidents measured in this study more likely stems from nitrogen dioxide or other pollutant gases rather than particulate matter.