You probably know that pollution is a fearsome factor in skin aging, as it’s brimming with the free radicals that damage cells. It can’t always be completely avoided, especially if you’re a city-dwelling pedestrian, but British scientists have found that just crossing the street could protect you from the most harmful batches of toxins.
Over the course of two months, a research team from the University of Leeds monitored pollution levels at a busy London intersection. They discovered that, in addition to where the traffic is standing, pollution tends to build in “hotspots” on the leeward (sheltered) side of the street, depending on the roof-level wind direction.
“The leeward side of the street had consistently higher concentrations of carbon monoxide than the windward side,” explained professor Alison Tomlin. “The same trends would be expected for other traffic-related pollutants such as ultra-fine particles and nitrogen dioxide.”
These environmental elements can prevent cells from functioning properly, even causing inflammation in some instances. This can lead to accelerated signs of skin aging.
“Pollution can be trapped within the street where it is emitted by recirculating winds,” Tomlin said. “It would be worth cyclists and pedestrians rethinking their regular routes, as they can massively reduce their pollution exposure by moving just one street away from the main traffic thoroughfares.”
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