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ReInventors

Would You Lock Yourself in a Box of Smog — for Science?

Go inside while our host reads, watches movies and exercises inside a box filled with diesel exhaust.

September 12, 2018

If you could teleport inside a polluted box to save lives, would you?

Long-term exposure to air pollution is one of the leading environmental causes of death worldwide. Prolonged exposure to air in cities like Beijing and New Delhi affects nearly every system in the body, and can cause bronchitis, inflammation, asthma and lung cancer.

To tackle the problem, researchers at the University of British Columbia couldn’t go to Beijing — so they brought Beijing to Vancouver. At the Air Pollution Exposure Lab, study participants spend two hours in a plexiglass box filled with diesel exhaust calibrated to mimic the air quality of Beijing. The exposure isn’t long enough to cause damage, but it offers critical data to help rapidly developing cities develop strategies to fight air pollution.

Go inside while our host reads, watches movies and exercises inside a box — for science.

ReInventors is hosted by Katie Herzog. Each episode features scientists, inventors and tinkerers who are reimagining the basic elements of our everyday lives.



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Sarah Hoffman

Sarah Hoffman is a science and environment producer for Crosscut and KCTS 9.

More stories by Sarah Hoffman

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