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Breathing in Toxic Car Fumes Reduce Stress?

December 1, 2011

It seems that breathing in toxic fumes may be able to improve a person’s stress level. According to a new research study at Tel Aviv University, Professor Itzhak Schnell asked 36 individuals to go into Israel’s busiest city for two days. The test subjects, in between the ages of 20 and 40 years old, moved to crowded places in Tel Aviv such as marketplaces, bus stations, restaurants, and shopping malls. The subjects also monitored how the subjects traveled throughout the city, whether they used public transportation, cars, or walked by foot.

The researchers were testing four specific environmental tenets on the people who went out into the city: how the people were affected by noise pollution, crowding of areas, carbon monoxide levels, and their thermal load (how the participants handled hot and cold). Contributors reported how stressful the four environmental factors made their experience in Tel Aviv.

According to the results of the study, Schnell reports that noise pollution was the largest stressor among the participants of the study. A surprising result of the study, as said by Schnell, was the amount of carbon monoxide (CO) inhaled by people was extremely lower than expected. He said that the reported one to fifteen parts per million (ppm) of carbon monoxide appeared to have a narcotic effect on the participants. The narcotic effect caused by the CO counteracted the stress level induced by the noise and crowds that the participants had to endure.

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