One Downside to Bicycle Commuting: Biker’s Lung
If you bike to work, you’ve probably got pretty nice thighs. Your lungs, though, may not be in such great shape.
New research has found that bicycle commuters inhale more than twice the amount of black carbon particles as pedestrians making a comparable trip. That healthy bike ride to and from work might be getting you out of a car, but it’s not getting you out of the way of the automobile emissions.
The study, led by Professor Jonathan Grigg from Barts and the London School of Medicine, looked at bicycle and pedestrian commuters in London to determine whether different modes of travel exposed commuters to higher levels of black carbon. By comparing levels of carbon in the lungs of five healthy bicycle commuters to the levels of five healthy pedestrian commuters, the researchers found a large disparity. The bicycle commuters had 2.3 times more black carbon in their lungs. They claim that the probability of this happening by chance is less than one percent.
Read more at The Atlantic Cities
When I started bike commuting full-time in June and July, I realized that seasonal allergies started getting worse, and soon figured out that sucking in car (and occasional bus) exhaust was probably not helping, especially when combined with the humidity of a DC summer.
The conditions improve as the air cools, but I have also made some route modifications to try to lower my exhaust intake levels. While making some of these behavioral changes, I’ve also considered (though not yet acted on) the idea of learning from millions of masked Vietnamese motorbike operators, and filtering out some of the exhaust before it hits my nose and mouth.
(photo via ottworld)