Stop smoking and leave your car at home. Encouraging people in cities to make simple lifestyle changes, such as using alternative forms of transport to the car, can significantly reduce their exposure to harmful air pollutants. The findings of the first in a series of Europe-wide air quality studies was announced today in Brussels by European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and Didier Gosuin, Environment Minister of the Brussels-Capital Region. The first phase of the “Population Exposure to Air Pollutants In Europe” (PEOPLE) project took place in Brussels during a 12-hour period last October, using 125 volunteers carrying special sensors to monitor their levels of exposure to benzene, a carcinogenic substance produced by traffic and smoking. Similar surveys have also been conducted in Lisbon, Bucharest and Ljubljana.
Figure 1: Map showing maximum exposure zones and benzene distribution levels in Brussels on the day of the campaign (22 October)
Figure 2: Relative influence of the variables considered in the personal exposure model
Announcing the results of the project, Commissioner Buquin said: “Air quality laws can only truly be effective if they are understood and endorsed by those they are meant to protect – European citizens. Research projects such as PEOPLE are key to providing decision-makers, environment and health professionals, as well as the general public, with a clearer understanding of urban air pollution and its impact on health. The knowledge gained by this important research will help us to shape our decisions on traffic and transport issues and encourage people to make healthier lifestyle choices.”
Leaving the car at home can improve your quality of life
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