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Professor Says Air Pollution is Worse Inside Your Car Than Out

Researchers in San Diego and Tijuana want to know if longer border wait times pose health problems for commuters. To that end, they're arming 100 volunteer border crossers with air quality monitoring

Professor Says Air Pollution is Worse Inside Your Car Than Out

Researchers in San Diego and Tijuana want to know if longer border wait times pose health problems for commuters. To that end, they're arming 100 volunteer border crossers with air quality monitoring devices. KPBS reporter Amy Isackson has details.

Volunteers carry the devices in their cars as they commute across the border.

The air quality monitor checks the level of particulate matter, like tiny specs of soot and car exhaust, every minute. A GPS records the location.

SDSU Environmental Health Professor Jenny Quintana is leading the study.

She says the results of the 25 crossings she's analyzed so far show higher levels of pollution inside cars compared to pollution levels measured outside by fixed air quality monitors.

Quintana : Even when you're traveling on San Diego roadways. We do see an elevated level of pollutants at the border. On some days, we have seen elevated levels also away from the border in Tijuana. And so we can definitely see when the person has crossed the border, for certain, of the pollutants. They drop down to lower levels when they cross into California.

Quintana hopes to complete the study in December.

She’s measuring pollution inside cars in both regular and Sentri lanes at Otay Mesa and San Ysidro.

Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

(Anyone who wants to volunteer in the study can do so by emailing bordercarstudy at gmail dot com.)