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Research shows:

• Air inside the car is significantly more polluted and dangerous than outside, even just a few meters away.

• Cars collect harmful exhaust fumes as they travel, as they are not air tight and suck in the air around them and at least half of dirty air comes from the vehicle directly in front.

• Toxic particulate matter (PM, or particle pollution) outside the car is dissipated before it reaches cyclists and pedestrians, whereas inside the car, it circulates and builds up in the cabin, leading to high concentrations.

• Cars in traffic and at traffic lights collect dangerously high levels of air pollution, due to cars being close together, and the impact of decelerating, idling and revving. Levels of PMs inside the car have been found to peak at 29 times higher in stationary traffic than cars in free-flowing traffic.

• Children driven to school are exposed to twice as much pollution as those using the same routes to walk or cycle. Passengers in the back of the car are particularly vulnerable to dirty air circulated by air conditioning and due the natural flow of air in vehicles – it builds up and sits around them.

• Toxic emissions from transport are the major cause of air pollution in Oxfordshire. Air pollution contributes to at least 1 in 20 early deaths in the county each year and poor air quality is described by the government as the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK.

• Adverse health effects from long-term exposure to air pollution include: cardiovascular and respiratory diseases; lung cancer.

Take action to keep yourself and others safe: remember, next time you reach for the car keys, it’s #CleanerOutThanIn

1 Reduce your exposure to harmful air: cycle, walk or use public transport whenever you can.

2 Don’t idle!

3 Keep your distance from the car in front, drive steadily to minimise acceleration and deceleration, think about when and where you drive, will it be congested?

4 Switch to an electric vehicle. The more drivers switching to electric vehicles, the less pollution on the roads.

5 Get an air filter to clean the air coming into your car

6 Find out more and take action:

• Sign the Oxfordshire Clean Air Charter: for information, for the petition; and on the Oxford City Council website

• Join with others working for cleaner air:

• Help collect data that matters:

• Get up-to-date air quality information:

• Get your school involved in this:

• Share this campaign – tell your friends, loved ones, colleagues about how it’s #CleanerOutThanIn #CleanAirDay


Links & references

Clean Air Day

Government Guidance – Health Matters: Air Pollution

Just how much air pollution are our children exposed to? I used the latest tech to find out, The Telegraph, 7 June 2019

Tips for reducing in-car air pollution, ITV News March 2018

Air pollution more harmful to children in cars than outside, warns top scientist, The Guardian, 12 June 2017

Smoking in cars is banned. But children still inhale toxic fumes in backseats, Professor Sir David King The Guardian June 2017

‘Information given in literature has provided solid evidence that air pollutants commonly observed inside cabins are at high exposure levels and can pose adverse effects on passengers’ health.  Air quality inside motor vehicles’ cabins: A review Indoor and Built Environment 27(4) · November 2016’_cabins_A_review

Higher air pollution health risk inside car, study finds, Air Quality News June 2016

Concentration dynamics of coarse and fine particulate matter at and around signalised traffic intersections, Kumar, P., Goel, A., 2016. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00215C (this is an open access article)

Characterisation of nanoparticle emissions and exposure at traffic intersections through fast–response mobile and sequential measurements, Goel et al., Atmospheric Environment, Volume 107, April 2015, Pages 374-390

Stopping at red lights could be slowly killing you, The Conversation, February 13, 2015

Air pollution ‘dangerously high’ for drivers at red lights, February 2015,

‘Assessment of personal exposure to particulate air pollution during commuting in European cities—Recommendations and policy implications’, Karanasiou et al., Science of The Total Environment, Volume 490, 15 August 2014, Pages 785-797

Guardian TV film about air pollution in London, April 2014:×9.mp4

Londoners measure personal air pollution exposure, January 2013,

‘Differences in cyclists and car drivers exposure to air pollution from traffic in the city of Copenhagen’, Rank et al.,Science of The Total Environment, Volume 279, Issues 1–3, 12 November 2001, Pages 131-136


Two more links with some useful info, but marketing products:

In-car air filters e.g.

‘In-car air pollution’