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How To Reduce Bicyclists Exposure To Air Pollution

How to Reduce Bicyclists Exposure to Air Pollution?

To the dispute for public space that bicycles and cars wage in many of the most important cities in the world, a silent battle between life and death is added, which is caused by air pollution, which, in a high percentage, is generated by motor vehicles.

There are no miracles when it comes to health, but exercising while riding a bicycle is very close to it. The benefits of physical activity are so far-reaching that even a few minutes a day of exercise will give you a long, healthy life. You may read about womens bikes size guide.

Paradoxically, the healthy practice of using the bicycle as a means of transport, today in many cities, can have unwanted side effects. Because being exposed for long periods to air pollution is related to lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases, strokes, and dementia. In addition, strong links have been found between it and the decline in cognitive function and an increase in mental illnesses and asthma in children.

Riding a bike has more benefits than damage from polluted air

How to Reduce Bicyclists Exposure to Air Pollution

Gases such as carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrogen dioxide, and atmospheric pollution by particles that emanate from the exhaust pipes of buses, cars, minibuses and trucks, are harmful elements that enter our lungs and the bloodstream, hurting our health.

And avoiding them while we are doing physical activity outdoors, such as when you are transporting yourself by bicycle, is not an easy task, but with a little attention and some practical advice, you will help reduce the harmful effects of their effects on our health. Keep reading

Air pollution kills around 12.6 million people each year – as stated in a report presented at the United Nations Environment Assembly -, however, there has been no analysis of the costs versus those benefits of a city bike. Up to now.

Experts in the field warn that there is a tolerance time before the beneficial effects of cycling and walking in cities with high concentrations of pollutants in the air become harmful. They call it a “break-even point,” but it’s actually a breaking point, after which – no pedaling for more than 60 minutes – riding a bike becomes harmful.

The main solution, of course, is to drastically reduce air pollution, but in the meantime, what can we do to protect ourselves?

Alternative routes may be a solution

One way that cyclists have to reduce our exposure to air pollution is to choose to use quieter routes, which are away from large concentrations of automobiles, because by moving between 50 and 100 meters away from concentrations of cars, you can reduce our exposure to air pollution by 53%, and in some cases up to 60%, depending on the type of pollutants.

Likewise, streets with tall buildings on each side, known as urban canyons, maybe more polluted, as pollutants get trapped between them.

Don’t assume that trees automatically mean a cleaner space: tall trees, close together to the canopies of those buildings, can also decrease the spread of pollution. In which case, what planners should be doing instead is planting lower-rise trees to act as a barrier between the contaminated road and pedestrians and cyclists.

Although all experts on the subject agree that the health benefits offered by cycling are greater than any potential harm derived from exposure to pollution, they warn that in situations of environmental contingency, we must drastically reduce our time of exposure to fresh air.

How long can you ride a bike before pollution hurts you?

And they recommend that in situations where contamination exceeds 100 points, we exercise at least intervals of no more than 60 minutes. This does not mean that you can only pedal 60 minutes a day in a safe way for your health, but that you do routes -with rest intervals- no longer than those 60 minutes.

For example: for my own safety, on days when an Atmospheric Environmental Contingency for Ozone is declared in my city, I tried to pedal at a moderate pace and not for more than 30 minutes; my afternoon trip when the ozone is highest is about 14 kilometers, which I do in just under 28 minutes – a fairly moderate cadence. You decide how much to pedal. In the end, it is your health.

Don’t increase the cadence

Pedaling at a low speed, avoiding exercising too much and thus consuming more oxygen will be another way to reduce our exposure to pollutants in the air.

Avoid Rush Hour. And just before rush hour is probably better than after. Early in the morning before the road mayhem breaks out may be best. During the morning rush hour, Holgate found that the levels of PM2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns or less, which can penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream) were higher than at rush hour pm. So wake up earlier and beat the traffic before it starts flushing its crap out.

The mask is not foolproof

Cycling masks are used as a remedy for polluted urban streets. And although there is a wide range on the market, their effectiveness is not clearly demonstrated.

The use of a mask can be a way to reduce exposure to pollutants. However, it depends on the model of masks used, the type of filter they have, and above all, if the cyclists adjust it correctly. If they are used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and even then, most will expose cyclists to the smallest harmful particles. And even in people with pre-existing lung conditions, they can exacerbate breathing difficulties.

A couple of studies conducted in Beijing, China, have suggested that the effective use of a mask could reduce the risk of adverse cardiovascular effects associated with exposure to airborne particulate pollution. However, PHE says more research is needed in other cities before recommending them globally.

Although cycling masks have been available for over a decade, not many cyclists wear them. We tried them, but in general, the remedy was worse than the disease. The temperature of the cyclists increased, the sweating increased and in some cases, it was difficult even to breathe.

The apps to monitor air quality

There are applications in which a city has a real-time update of air pollution, so you can choose where to avoid riding your bicycle and they are really useful.

Holgate is also targeting the growing market for personal sensors, which, when combined with a smartphone, can monitor levels of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. However, scientists and agencies such as the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the US Environmental Protection Agency caution that they are still in their infancy and that their measurements may not be entirely reliable.

Eat a healthy diet

There is growing evidence that what we eat can mitigate the harmful effects of air pollution on our health. One study, presented by the New York University School of Medicine, examined data from more than 500,000 people, looking at their adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet and their estimated long-term exposure to air pollution.

When taking pollution exposure into account, the results suggested that those who followed the diet more closely were less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, and deaths from all causes were lower. These pollutants increase oxidation in the body, and if you have antioxidants, such as vitamin C and other vitamins found in fruits and vegetables, in your body, they can help neutralize it.

The problem is that many people in this country do not consume enough in their diet. It is those people who live in the poorest places and who receive the most exposure to pollutants.

In short, 

Avoid pedaling on roads with a lot of traffic as much as possible; When attending your commitments in the morning, leave with plenty of time to avoid breathing in the dirt that the cars spit from their exhausts, in the afternoon, wait for the traffic to drop and start your trip – in one of those, your boss, at Seeing that you arrive before everyone else and leave after everyone else, proposes you a better position- eat fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C. 

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