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York study compares pollution levels for on- and off-road cycle commuters

Similar analysis may assist in cycle lane spending decisions

Researchers in York have measured the difference in the amount of pollution inhaled by on- and off-road cycle commuters in the city, reports the York Press.

While the finding that those riding in amongst the traffic inhaled more pollution is unlikely to put the University of York boffins in line for a Nobel Laureate, by quantifying the different exposures the scientists have created a model which could  assist authorities to make decisions about building new cycle lanes.

The university’s environment department worked with the city council over a two month period to monitor nitrogen dioxide pollution and the results, published in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring, demonstrate that when commuting off-road the total dose of the pollutant inhaled was between seven and 35 per cent less than on-road routes.

High doses of the nitrogen dioxide can cause inflammation of the lungs, while exposure to lower doses over prolonged periods can reduce overall lung function, especially in those with existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, or in the elderly.

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