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WillStewart
07-11-2011, 04:39 PM
How do you determine when you will bike commute on a given with an ozone alert and when you will refrain?

At an air quality index of 50-90;


Sensitive people may experience irritation when breathing and possible lung damage when
physically active; people with heart/lung disorders at greater risk

(Fine Particulate Effects)
People with respiratory disease should limit prolonged exertion;general population at some risk

At 100+:


Serious respiratory effects, even during light physical activity; people with heart/lung disorders at high risk;

(Fine Particulate Effects)
Serious respiratory effects even during light physical activity; people with heart disease, the elderly and children at high risk;
increased risk for general population


Today, for example;


The combination of temperatures in the low to mid 90s along with
high moisture content will cause heat index values to be between
100 and 105 degrees through late this afternoon. After 6
PM... heat index values will decrease into the upper 90s.

Your approach to this?

OneEighth
07-11-2011, 05:01 PM
I ride regardless. I just take it easier (assuming I can afford to do so) and keep the route direct.

CCrew
07-11-2011, 05:05 PM
I ride regardless. I just take it easier (assuming I can afford to do so) and keep the route direct.

Same here. That said, it was a nasty ride home due to the air quality. I was on the pavement @ 2:30

I wear a HR monitor that mates to my Garmin, when it starts climbing into the 150's at times I know normally it's no more than 130 or so It's pretty obvious the effect the heat/air has.

ronwalf
07-11-2011, 05:56 PM
Air quality varies throughout the day. You can check the current levels and forecast here:
http://www.mwcog.org/environment/air/forecast/

I ride home later when the heat and humidity is bad. I'd adjust my speed for air quality... if I ever remembered to check it. Today, however, my wife announced that cobbler was coming out of the oven, so I ignored my own advice and gunned it all the way home.

Riley Casey
07-11-2011, 07:11 PM
Just to illuminate my miserably poor understanding of the subject... Does anyone know how localized or granular something like smog is? Do pollutants disperse and equalize very quickly or is there a substantial difference between riding on a major six lane rush hour artery and riding just a few blocks away? I know that even on very bad AQI days that I can easily detect a qualitative difference in the air along the 200 yard stretch I do alongside the park each morning. That however is just a few minutes after crossing upper 16th Street .

Joe Chapline
07-11-2011, 07:22 PM
Just to illuminate my miserably poor understanding of the subject... Does anyone know how localized or granular something like smog is? Do pollutants disperse and equalize very quickly or is there a substantial difference between riding on a major six lane rush hour artery and riding just a few blocks away? I know that even on very bad AQI days that I can easily detect a qualitative difference in the air along the 200 yard stretch I do alongside the park each morning. That however is just a few minutes after crossing upper 16th Street .

I do NOT know, but that won't keep me from posting. Just an observation: I've looked at lots of air quality reports over many years, and I've never seen any attempt to make them very local. Air quality maps depict areas that cover whole states.

Greenbelt
07-11-2011, 08:20 PM
I did a bit of on-road riding today (away from DC). Because I mostly ride on trails and low-traffic routes when I commute in DC, I forget how much worse the air quality seems just being in traffic with all those cars and trucks. I do NOT know the answer to the question either, but I'd bet that air quality varies a lot even within the region on low wind/stagnant air days -- much better in the parks away from traffic; much worse near heavy traffic.

elcee
07-11-2011, 08:35 PM
Here's one data point, from Jeff Mapes, "Pedaling Revolution," pp. 241-242:

"Busy roads are toxic air corridors, with pollution levels that can be much higher than a few hundred yards away. An Amsterdam study found that people living near busy streets are exposed to two times as much particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. Similarly, a Harvard School of Public Health study concluded that there is a 500-foot to 1,500-foot zone around heavily trafficked streets with significantly higher pollution levels. ... A report from the Center for Technology Assessment found twenty-three studies showing higher pollution levels in cars than in monitoring stations along the side of the road. ...

"... This means drivers of motor vehicles are often exposed to worse air pollution than they may be led to believe by measurements of overall air quality. Researchers believe these high pollution levels may be one factor in the previously mentioned German study about driving and heart attacks. The question for cyclists is what kind of risk they are putting themselves in when they ride on busy streets - which in many cities is often a necessity.

"A Dublin study found cyclists were exposed to higher levels of particulate matter, probably, the researchers concluded, because they were frequently sharing the lane with diesel buses, a prime cause of air pollution. In addition, depending on how deeply cyclists are breathing, the study said they may also be absorbing greater quantities of benzene, which can cause cancer, and of other pollutants implicated in respiratory and heart problems."

JimF22003
07-12-2011, 07:33 AM
I was stuck behind a tour bus at Hains Point last night (he pulled out in front of me...) Oh the diesel fumes!

PotomacCyclist
07-12-2011, 07:50 AM
I definitely notice an increase in particulates and nasty chemicals the closer I get to buses, trucks and cars. I usually try to hold my breath while I pass near them. If there isn't room to pass quickly, then I'll back off and get away from the exhaust. I've probably extended my life by three years by not breathing in all of that junk. (Well, maybe only 2 1/2 years.)

At the other end of the spectrum, the air in Zermatt in the Swiss Alps is almost pristine. It doesn't get that hot. More importantly, they prohibit all gas-powered vehicles. Only electric vehicles are allowed. I guess someone is burning coal somewhere to generate much of that electricity (or it could be hydroelectricity or nuclear). But none of those emissions are found in Zermatt.

mosesdef
07-12-2011, 08:27 AM
After a commute (on Seven Locks Rd., a fairly busy road) I usually have a fine layer of dust/dirt covering my face... is this the same as the toxic particulates that can cause lung damage?

Jsnyd
07-12-2011, 09:22 AM
Not sure, but I can imagine that constant exposure to vehicle exhaust could eventually hurt. Seeing as carbon monoxide is toxic. I would guess that the first sign of poisoning would be heavy fatigue. Once that happens you might want to stay off the road for a few weeks. There has been quite a few air quality alerts in this area. I try not to stay out too long on those days. They are harmful to the young and elderly and people with respiratory issues. I have a weather channel app on my iphone and that will give me a heads up on the weeks alerts and a fair judgment of weather.

WillStewart
07-12-2011, 09:57 AM
From the American Lung Association (http://www.lungusa.org/press-room/press-releases/young-adults-ozone-smog.html);


Washington, D.C. (January 7, 2011)— According to the study (http://ajrccm.atsjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/201011-1813OCv1?ct=ct), conducted by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, ozone, the major component of smog, damaged the lung tissues of healthy young adults exposed in a laboratory setting despite being at levels well below what is currently considered safe. This new information provides a strong warning that people with asthma or other lung diseases, including children and older adults, face even greater health threats from this most common air pollutant.

Ozone is an invisible gas made of three oxygen atoms (O3). Ozone reacts chemically with internal body tissues, such as those in the lung, irritating and inflaming the respiratory system. Ozone causes shortness of breath, chest pain inflammation of the lung lining, wheezing and coughing, and increased risk of asthma attacks, need for medical treatment and for hospitalization for people with lung diseases. Ozone also increases the risk of early death. People most at risk include children, senior citizens, those with lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as those who work or exercise outdoors.

WillStewart
07-12-2011, 10:01 AM
On other orange alert days when I hadn't paid any attention to them, I noticed that I seemed to have less lung capacity, though at that time I chalked it up to early summer pollen or humidity. Now I am going to structure my ride schedule around the projected level of ozone.

I did not ride today due to the forecast, but the rest of the week is looking good.

WillStewart
07-12-2011, 10:07 AM
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=air-pollution-triggers-cyclists-heart-risks



Sheer proximity to tailpipes is one reason why cyclists have a high exposure to the tiny particle pollutants, which are emitted by vehicles along with thousands of other chemicals. Diesel buses and trucks are among the worst offenders.

"The closer you are to the source of the fresh exhaust, the worse it is," said Patrick Ryan, an environmental epidemiologist at the University of Cincinnati, who studies the health effects of traffic-related pollution.

Near the tailpipe, these particles are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs, triggering heart attacks and hospitalizations from lung diseases such as asthma. Tiny particles can also cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially harming the nervous system. Farther away from the tailpipe, these particles clump together, growing too large to lodge deeply, Ryan said.

mosesdef
07-12-2011, 10:15 AM
thank you Jsnyd and WillStewart for the insight.

mosesdef
07-12-2011, 10:18 AM
http://airnow.gov/

here is the link to the local air quality conditions and forecast.

Dirt
07-12-2011, 10:48 AM
If there's air outside, I ride. I adjust my expectations for speed and distance based upon conditions.

jrenaut
07-12-2011, 10:51 AM
If there's air outside, I ride. I adjust my expectations for speed and distance based upon conditions.

Agree. I'd rather have lung damage than live my life based on a weather report.

WillStewart
07-12-2011, 10:54 AM
From http://www.deq.virginia.gov/air/air-quality-data/current-year.html

Arlington County Eight-hour ozone exceedences (2011 recorded ozone concentrations greater than 75 parts per billion);

May 31, 2011: 93 PPB
June 8, 2011: 82 PPB
June 9, 2011: 79 PPB
June 10, 2011: 100 PPB
July 2, 2011: 87 PPB
July 5, 2011: 78 PPB
July 7, 2011: 89 PPB

WillStewart
07-12-2011, 11:01 AM
I'd rather have lung damage than live my life based on a weather report.

On bad ozone days, I'm switching over to bus/metrorail, so it's not clear how you extrapolate this to "live my life based on a weather report". I personally would prefer not to damage my lungs by ignoring such conditions, but that's just me. I bike commute for improved health and reducing dependence on foreign oil, and continue to meet those objectives with this approach.

jrenaut
07-12-2011, 11:05 AM
On bad ozone days, I'm switching over to bus/metrorail, so it's not clear how you extrapolate this to "live my life based on a weather report". I personally would prefer not to damage my lungs by ignoring such conditions, but that's just me. I bike commute for improved health and reducing dependence on foreign oil, and continue to meet those objectives with this approach.

I'm just speaking for myself. You don't need my permission or approval to make your own decisions.

Dirt
07-12-2011, 12:37 PM
Agree. I'd rather have lung damage than live my life based on a weather report.

The damage done to me by not riding isn't always visible. I feel it though. I guess that answers the "Why do you still ride after being hit by cars so many times?" question too.

Jsnyd
07-12-2011, 02:07 PM
I thought about going out today. But then the wife woke up late and I was stuck babysitting. I think deep down I was looking for an excuse. When I go out to ride I generally go for a workout and get ready for my longer ride late August. I’m just worried I’m doing more harm them good once I'm huffing and puffing.

WillStewart
07-12-2011, 02:07 PM
You don't need my permission or approval to make your own decisions.

No problem, I didn't ask. I admire your tenacity at bike commuting, though.



The damage done to me by not riding isn't always visible. I feel it though.

Good point. I am shooting for at least 5 hours per week on two wheels, though am typically over 7. No doubt others are higher.

Dirt
07-12-2011, 02:14 PM
No doubt others are higher.
No need to worry what others do. Awesome that you're getting the time in the saddle. I think most of us wish we could ride more than we do. Great job!

Jsnyd
07-13-2011, 02:45 PM
With that being said. I went to Indian Head Rail Trail this morning, away from the city. Breathing was great! I could breathe in deep, smell more the pavement and there was even a cool breeze.

vvill
07-15-2011, 10:15 AM
Yeah today is yellow, which isn't that bad but peaks around when I do my home commute. Bleh.

I usually keep a browser tab open on weather.gov's forecast ozone levels for my location, and refresh the page before heading out. Here's Rosslyn, VA:
http://www.weather.gov/aq/probe_aq_data.php?latitude=38.89&longitude=-77.08

An easier to read handy one is:
http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/living/environment/airquality/
although it's only a 2 day forecast, I think - the third day is always gray.

I wear a Respro Techno mask on orange days, for as long as I can. It is hard to get enough oxygen with this on. (link: http://www.respro.com/products/industrial/urban-environment/techno_mask/ )
This mask is supposed to filter out both particulate matter and gases/vapors such as ozone.

They're a UK company which seems reputable to me (they were carried in many stores in UK) but do have some limited distribution over here.

On orange days I also drive most of my commute and just ride 3.5 mi (each way).

Red days I probably wouldn't ride...



Here's some other pollution masks I've considered too.

I would consider trying this one, it closely resembles the Respro but don't know how good it really is:
http://thefilt-rmask.com/

Another couple of similar options, websites are a bit basic though
http://www.gflowmask.com/
http://icanbreathe.com/store/page15.html

Don't know anything about this one, it looks unwieldy, and there's not much info on the site about what it actually filters out:
http://www.thinkbiologic.com/products/pollution-mask

Love the design of this one, but it doesn't filter ozone or CO afaik:
http://totobobo.com/

WillStewart
07-15-2011, 11:14 AM
I wear a Respro Techno mask on orange days, for as long as I can. It is hard to get enough oxygen with this on. (link: http://www.respro.com/products/industrial/urban-environment/techno_mask/ )
This mask is supposed to filter out both

They're a UK company which seems reputable to me (they were carried in many stores in UK) but do have some limited distribution over here.

On orange days I also drive most of my commute and just ride 3.5 mi (each way).

Thanks for sharing this. When I went to the site and drilled down for more detail, it seems to focus on particulate matter down to 0.3 microns, which is far below the level of the 2.5 micron standard, so the PM protection looks outstanding.

I didn't see anything about ozone control, did I miss something?

Thanks again for running down a number of masks, btw.

vvill
07-15-2011, 09:44 PM
Thanks for sharing this. When I went to the site and drilled down for more detail, it seems to focus on particulate matter down to 0.3 microns, which is far below the level of the 2.5 micron standard, so the PM protection looks outstanding.

I didn't see anything about ozone control, did I miss something?

Thanks again for running down a number of masks, btw.

No problem. I researched a bit myself due to concerns about commuting pollution. I added a couple more options to the list.

Sorry, I missed a bit in my original post. Should've said "both particulate matter and gases/vapors".

Anyway, here is a bit about gases/vapors that mentions the "Dynamic ACC (Activated Charcoal Cloth) filter" that's in that mask's filter.
http://www.respro.com/protection-faqs/#q2

Brendan von Buckingham
07-19-2011, 02:49 PM
There's all sorts of things in urban air. Professionally I work with historic architecture and old buildings. Went to a seminar on historic masonry. When they clean masonry buildings of decades worth of grime, guess what the number one contaminant is. Rubber. Rubber from millions of tires slowly wearing away, every day.

WillStewart
07-20-2011, 10:19 AM
There's all sorts of things in urban air. Professionally I work with historic architecture and old buildings. Went to a seminar on historic masonry. When they clean masonry buildings of decades worth of grime, guess what the number one contaminant is. Rubber. Rubber from millions of tires slowly wearing away, every day.

Good point, Brendan.

"Particulate Matter, or PM-2.5, refers to tiny particles that are smaller than 2.5 microns (smaller than the width of a human hair). Particulate matter has several sources including dirt kicked up into the air on paved and unpaved roads, tires and brake linings as they wear down, smoke, vehicle tailpipe emissions, and earth moving activities. Because particulate matter is so very tiny, it easily bypasses your lung’s protective systems."

http://www.tmacog.org/airqualityfacts.htm

Methodology to Calculate Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 2.5 CEQA Significance Thresholds (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCQQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aqmd.gov%2Fceqa%2Fhandbook%2F PM2_5%2Fpm2_5new.doc&rct=j&q=%22Particulate%20Matter%22%20PM%202.5%20source%2 0tires&ei=dPMmTrfXGMrOgAem0rFc&usg=AFQjCNFiah9Bbyr-Mhgriy3JOZz22bSGqg&sig2=Wgg9CfZbjuPM2lX1OCqf9w&cad=rja)

"Particles in the PM2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Scientific studies have linked increases in daily PM2.5 exposure with increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, emergency department visits and deaths. Studies also suggest that long term exposure to fine particulate matter may be associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease."

http://www.health.state.ny.us/environmental/indoors/air/pmq_a.htm

Wearing an effective mask while bike commuting significant distances on high pollution days is looking more and more appropriate.

baiskeli
07-21-2011, 09:47 AM
Wearing an effective mask while bike commuting significant distances on high pollution days is looking more and more appropriate.

That brings up another question - aren't most days going to be bad for particulates? The heat probably doesn't affect them like it does ozone. I would think that unless it's raining or just rained, most days would have particulates floating around.

DaveK
07-21-2011, 11:17 AM
Today's heat - brain damage. If you catch someone riding around singing Winter Wonderland that'll be me.

WillStewart
07-21-2011, 11:23 AM
That brings up another question - aren't most days going to be bad for particulates? The heat probably doesn't affect them like it does ozone. I would think that unless it's raining or just rained, most days would have particulates floating around.

Good question. If you look at the daily data over the year, it seems that PM 2.5 pollution correlates to temperature, at least weakly;
http://air.mwcog.org/index.cfm?selYear=2011&selMonth=1

Make sure Particulate Matter is selected and keep hitting "Next Month" to see how it progresses through this year (to date).

Dirt
07-21-2011, 11:40 AM
Today's heat - brain damage. If you catch someone riding around singing Winter Wonderland that'll be me.

I used Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer this morning. I felt very comfy and cool in my own personal dream world. :D

ronwalf
07-21-2011, 12:01 PM
Good question. If you look at the daily data over the year, it seems that PM 2.5 pollution correlates to temperature, at least weakly;

Look at February 19th, 2011. It seems particulate matter has a strong correlation with major fires :0
http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/Air/AirQualityMonitoring/Documents/EEPetition_20110219_Final.pdf
(skip the boring text, just look at the pictures)

Greenbelt
07-23-2011, 05:42 PM
I'm just now going through all the great air quality links on this thread -- thanks everyone.

If it wasn't mentioned before, this is the one I've been using. I like the animation tab thingy: http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_city&cityid=268