A University of Toronto professor has developed an app allowing cyclists to find the least polluted route to their destination.
Marianne Hatzopoulou has developed the Clean Ride Mapper, an app which shows two routes between two set points: the fastest, and the cleanest.
The app takes into account the most dangerous ultra fine particles, which are emitted from motorists’ exhaust fumes and can cause lung problems and even early death.
Prof Hatzopoulou told Global News: “We actually do see there are measurable impacts on your physiology, on your heart rate, on your blood pressure [with exposure]. So if you’re someone with diabetes or asthma it might actually impact you.”
Some experts have also linked the pollution to some cancers.
“These studies do exist. They were not done with ultrafine particles in particular, they were done with other pollutants,” she added.
“We know traffic generates a soup of pollutants. If one of them is high maybe the other ones are correlated as well.”
Some of the most polluted areas are in city centres, with Oxford Circus in London being the worst pollution hotspot in the UK.
“Tall buildings, smaller roads, air pollution is trapped in these areas,” she said.
As well as showing riders the cleanest, greenest route to their destination, the app will also tell cyclists how much pollution they could avoid by making a different choice.
Fast-moving traffic also generates a lot of pollution, and mornings are worse than evenings.
Now researchers are studying behaviour patterns of cyclists and pedestrians to see how much effort they are prepared to make to avoid extra pollution on their routes.
Just last month we reported how the quality of the air in Greater Manchester is to be tackled with an action plan to bring down vehicle emissions being put to public consultation.
The interim city Mayor, Tony Lloyd, has launched a draft plan, with measures aimed at the worst areas near major roads - many of which fail UK and EU legal air quality standards.
Most concerning are the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter - which are mainly the result of vehicle emissions, and diesel engines are the worst offenders.
The city is not currently expected to attain its emissions targets until at least 2020.
The new measures include lower emission buses and electric vehicles, consolidating freight traffic and creating a new Clean Air Zone.
“Air quality and carbon emissions are two of the key challenges facing Greater Manchester… We must take action to stop these deaths – doing nothing is not an option”, said Tony Lloyd.
And two weeks ago health warnings were issued as toxic farm chemicals from Europe and Saharan dust combined with a spring heat wave to bring about a spike in air pollution across South East England.