The study identified that one of the most dangerous pollutants to health from exhaust fumes was fine particles that can be easily breathed into the lungs. Diesel, and to a lesser extent petrol, is a major producer of these asthma, respiratory and heart disease-causing particulates. The people in the greatest danger are vehicle occupants, who have up to three times the exposure to exhaust fumes as people walking, cycling or using public transport.
The message the Energy Saving Trust is now stressing to fleet managers is that switching to alternative fuels not only makes economic sense but could help to save drivers' lives. Jonathan Murray, manager of the Powershift programme, said: 'The report could be the kick-start needed to gain widespread acceptance of alternative fuels.'