Drivers More Affected By Rush Hour Pollution Than Bikers: Study

BY ARIEL SCHWARTZ Tue May 17, 2011

You're inhaling tailpipe fumes when you're on a bike, but they don't hurt you as much as the ones you inhale while stuck in traffic.

Urban biking. So healthy, except that you're pedaling around with tailpipes blowing into your mouths. A study last year seemed to confirm this, claiming that city cyclists inhale tens of millions of toxic nanoparticles every time they draw a breath--over five times more pollution than drivers and pedestrians are exposed to. Now a new study says that cyclists do, in fact, inhale more particulates than their driving counterparts. But they shouldn't care. It doesn't affect them in the same way that it does drivers.

Translation:bikers experience more air pollution than drivers while cycling, but their airway function is still better than drivers' post-commute. So what does this mean? Cyclists probably just have better lung capacity from all that exercise--their healthiness offsets the inhalation of poisons. Drivers also spend more time sitting in pollution-filled traffic. In any case, this was a very small study, with only 37 participants taking 357 trips by bike, bus, and car (the bus and car participants performed similarly). But still, know that while a car seems like a hermetically sealed box, drivers are inhaling a lot of pollution.

Do you want to be exposed to fewer particulates or be less affected by the large amount of particulates to which you're exposed? The world is full of hard choices.

[Image by Flickr user Mikael Colville-Anderson]

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