Every year, hundreds of car accidents could be caused by air pollution, according to new research by the London School of Economics.
More than 16,000 Britons die of diseases linked to air pollution every year – but researchers say it could also be the cause of car accidents.
Toxic air could cause “watery eyes and itchy noses”
The scientists say toxic air can impair a driver’s fitness, while watery eyes and an itchy nose could also be distracting.
The study shows that a rise in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels of just a single microgramme per cubic metre, corresponded with a rise in the number of collisions by 2%.
While this could be the result of more traffic on the roads, the researchers say the results were the same when they adjusted for extra traffic.
Air pollution can result from many different toxins, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, small particulate matter and ozone.
But it was NO2 which was found to have the biggest impact on drivers.
Study criticised by experts
But others are more sceptical about the link between air pollution and accidents.
AA president Edmund King said: “If you think about areas which are high in air pollution they are a lot busier, with taxis and buses and lorries and where you have a greater mix of traffic you tend to have more accidents.”
He called the research “far-fetched”, adding that it is very difficult to prove whether a driver’s fitness is impaired by pollution.
“It would be hard to tease apart whether a crash is caused by a driver wiping his eyes because of pollution or the type of traffic which is to blame,” he said.
“If you look at Mumbai and New Delhi where you have some of the worst air pollution, yes you have far more accidents, but it is also far more chaotic.”
Source: The Telegraph
Date Published: October 20, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown