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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2016, Article ID 1548326, 12 pages
Review Article

Airborne Infectious Agents and Other Pollutants in Automobiles for Domestic Use: Potential Health Impacts and Approaches to Risk Mitigation

1Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1H 8M5
2CREM Co, 3403 American Drive, Mississauga, ON, Canada L4V 1T4
3RB, 1 Philips Parkway, Montvale, NJ 07645, USA
4Department of Biology, Medgar Evers College, The City University of New York (CUNY), Brooklyn, NY, USA

Received 27 May 2016; Revised 14 October 2016; Accepted 23 October 2016

Academic Editor: Linda M. Gerber

Copyright © 2016 Syed A. Sattar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The world total of passenger cars is expected to go from the current one billion to >2.5 billion by 2050. Cars for domestic use account for ~74% of the world’s yearly production of motorized vehicles. In North America, ~80% of the commuters use their own car with another 5.6% travelling as passengers. With the current life-expectancy of 78.6 years, the average North American spends 4.3 years driving a car! This equates to driving 101 minutes/day with a lifetime driving distance of nearly 1.3 million km inside the confined and often shared space of the car with exposure to a mix of potentially harmful pathogens, allergens, endotoxins, particulates, and volatile organics. Such risks may increase in proportion to the unprecedented upsurge in the numbers of family cars globally. Though new technologies may reduce the levels of air pollution from car exhausts and other sources, they are unlikely to impact our in-car exposure to pathogens. Can commercial in-car air decontamination devices reduce the risk from airborne infections and other pollutants? We lack scientifically rigorous protocols to verify the claims of such devices. Here we discuss the essentials of a customized aerobiology facility and test protocols to assess such devices under field-relevant conditions.