Truck drivers have the highest overall exposure to air pollution and yet are being overlooked in the air quality debate, according to scientists at King’s College London. Research by UK environmental charity Hubbub in cooperation with the King’s College and The Times examined how poor air quality affected people living and working in London.
The study involved ten participants using portable monitors that tracked their air pollution exposure levels; a school pupil, a college student, an MP, a construction worker, a truck driver, a gas safe engineer, a city cyclist, a doctor, an office worker, and a runner. However, only being a small sample the results are interesting and relevant for future research.
Truck drivers have the highest overall exposure to air pollution. The site engineer at a construction site was 6 times more exposed than someone in a clean indoor office environment. This highlights an issue around outdoor workers exposure and suggests outdoor workers are an overlooked vulnerable group.
Poor air quality is very localized. Taking routes that have less traffic or traveling makes a significant difference to personal exposure rates. It is a common misconception that cyclists and pedestrians are likely to face the lowest air quality, but this result indicates that this is not the case. Taking a less busy route whilst walking or cycling makes a significant difference.
Modern office buildings with efficient filter systems tend to have good air quality. In leakier older buildings the situation is very different, especially when they’re located next to busy roads. Burning anything drastically reduces the quality of air. The monitoring could detect when people had lit candles, incense sticks or fires in their homes as there was a spike in poor air quality levels.
Hubbub hopes that the findings will lead to the creation of a broader coalition of businesses willing to invest in a series of practical interventions under the Air We Share banner that will reduce Londoner’s exposure to poor air quality and act as a source of inspiration for local authorities across the UK.