Traffic jams: bad for basically everything, including your health

Pollution levels inside cars can get up to 40 percent higher while in traffic jams.

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Colorado Boulevard shimmers under the heat on a Saturday afternoon. Not packed, still vexing. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Colorado Boulevard shimmers under the heat on a Saturday afternoon. Not packed, still vexing. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Pollution levels inside cars can get up to 40 percent higher while in traffic jams, according to a new study from the University of Surrey. Add it to the well-documented case that traffic is bad for your health

How bad is Denver relatively? Well, the combined Denver/Aurora/Boulder “urbanized area” ranked about 19th worst among U.S. metro areas for congestion in 2014, according to the most recent report from the Denver Regional Council of Governments.

That means 16 percent of all the car trips we took in 2014 were made in congested conditions. That’s expected to increase to 28 percent by 2040.

The report from the University of Surrey has some Panic Room-style tips to minimize your exposure to pollutants in traffic: Keep windows shut, turn off the fan and try to keep some distance between you and the car in front of you.

But I prefer the don’t-drive method.