When Elon Musk announced the Tesla Model X would be fitted with a Bioweapon Defense Mode, many wondered what he knew that they didn't. Turns out the head of Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal wasn't worried about global chemical warfare – rather, the HEPA filters in the Model X and Model S are designed to protect us against the scourge of air pollution.

After testing the Bioweapon Defense Mode in the not-so-pristine real-world environments of rush-hour freeways and landfills in California and major cities in China, Tesla wanted to test the system in more controlled conditions. A Model X was parked in a climate bubble contaminated with 1,000 µg/m3 of fine, PM2.5 particulate matter. Considering the EPA's rating for "good" air quality is 12 µg/m3, that qualifies as an extreme amount of pollution.

According to the testers, it took under two minutes for the hospital-grade HEPA filtration system to bring pollutant levels down from 1,000 µg/m3 to an undetectable level, allowing them to take their gas masks off and breathe clean air within the cabin. Tesla also says the system even started to clean the air around the car, recording a 40 percent reduction in PM2.5 matter in the bubble once the interior was clear of pollutants.

This might seem like overkill, but it is responding to a growing problem. The World Health Organization says air pollution is a "major environmental health problem affecting everyone in developed and developing countries alike," and reducing air pollution levels can "reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases."

The preliminary testing suggests Tesla's Bioweapon Defense Mode will help address such problems, at least for Tesla owners, which is good news for early-adopting hypochondriacs keen to hum around in an exclusion zone.

Source: Tesla

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