Minimize Pollution in Your Car By Turning on Your A/C
Driving (or idling) in bad
Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis
figured out that air conditioners are the most effective method of keeping your cabin air as pollution-free as possible. To test their hypothesis they outfitted various
As they tracked the cars over a four-month period, they identified different concentrations of pollutants depending on their location, what vehicles were nearby, and whether or not there was construction work. They also measured pollution with the windows up, down, with the fan on, or with the
With the air conditioner on, the indoor cabin air was anywhere from 20 to 34 percent cleaner. You can thank your car's cold evaporator, the element in your air conditioning system that absorbs the heat and produces the cold air. The car's cold evaporator attracts the pollutants to its surface, where they are deposited before reaching your car's cabin.
Of course, employing this trick means something of a devil's bargain: air conditioning is a major contributor to global warming, and you'll be improving your air quality within by worsening your impact on the environment at large. That in mind, maybe best to save this one for particularly smoggy, hot days, and stick with the fan the rest of the time.