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  1. #1
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    Breathing exhaust fumes

    I'm sure this has probably been brought up in other threads before, but does anyone have information about the affects of long term exposure to car and truck exhaust? Most of the bicycling I do is on roads that are in an urban enviroment and I often bicycle on roads with heavy traffic. I love the exercise, but am I killing myself slowly by breathing the gas and diesel fumes?

  2. #2
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    it's hard to tell. we had a local news story a few years ago that supposedly determined that walking in a park is much better for your health then running along a busy street. the effects of pollution offset the benefits of running. not sure the validity of the story (it was a local news quick story), but i'm sure there is some truth to it.

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    05 Roubaix Comp Double
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    It cant help and i sure hate it. After i get off the bikepate,its overbearing when i'm back in traffic.
    Touch every 3rd person and you'll find an idiot.

  4. #4
    I get hit by cars Crash Dummy's Avatar
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    The carbon monoxide outcompetes oxygen for the binding sites on hemoglobin, so breathing exhaust means your aerobic system is less efficient. It also binds more tightly, so as long as you're in an exhaust-filled area, your performance may worsen the longer you breate it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by timmhaan
    it's hard to tell. we had a local news story a few years ago that supposedly determined that walking in a park is much better for your health then running along a busy street. the effects of pollution offset the benefits of running. not sure the validity of the story (it was a local news quick story), but i'm sure there is some truth to it.
    I also heard this. The concentration of dangerous pollutants is so much greater on the road than it is not only a few hundred yards from the road.

    A good example of this is what happens to snow on the side of the road. Pure white snow quickly turns black shortly after a snowfall in urban areas. But the further you move away from the road the less black the snow will be.

    I too bicycle on busy roads, but I love it too much to worry about he long term health affects. I bicycle for more than the health benefits, but I understand the concern.

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    Senior Member Drayko's Avatar
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    CO is relatively light though and dissapates, CO poisoning isn't really an issue unless you are in a confined space (ie garage). I bet there's other stuff in exhaust that isn't great for you either though. I worry about the heavy stuff that you can just see as a cloud in front of you.

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    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    a friend of mine lives along a busy street. it has a lot of bus and truck traffic as well as cars. his apartment is on the third floor and faces the street. every week he has to clean off the soot of his window. it's like a black film that collects on there. i'm sure a fraction of this stuff goes into our lungs as well. the cumulative effect on his window is really disgusting. gets into the apartment too if the window is open.
    Last edited by timmhaan; 05-06-05 at 10:16 AM.

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    This is an interesting article. Smog is like "sunburn inside your lungs". If smog is that bad, breathing exhaust at close range has to be extremely bad.

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/05/01/smog.health/

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    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    some places in the world are literially toxic environments already. very sad to see pics like this. even sadder to have to live like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rs00
    I also heard this. The concentration of dangerous pollutants is so much greater on the road than it is not only a few hundred yards from the road.

    A good example of this is what happens to snow on the side of the road. Pure white snow quickly turns black shortly after a snowfall in urban areas. But the further you move away from the road the less black the snow will be.
    Another good example of this is the soot that sticks to the oil on your chain. I have noticed that after a week of bicycling in on busy roads in an urban enviroment, my chain quickly gets filthy. But when I take my bike to Venice, Florida where the air is very clean and the traffic is light, my chain stays clean much longer. If the chain is absorbing soot, so are your lungs.

  11. #11
    Just riding andygates's Avatar
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    Soot gets stuck in your snot: that's what snot is for. Blow out black loogies and you're fine.

    Fumes are worst at the tailpipe level. Most cyclists are well above this, so we're not getting all that much nastiness. Compare to a driver, whose car air intake is right in front of the car in fron't tailpipe

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    Yeah I was reading some stuff on kenkifer.com or somewhere, drivers actually get the worst air because they're sucking it in from the guy in front's tailpipe. But drivers *think* they're getting country-fresh air because they have a little pine-scented pine tree, and besides, GM or Ford etc would never allow anything but fresh pure air in their cars right?

    Maybe the stinky air is more noticeable to us riding because we're getting clean air too, while if you smell polluted air all the time you stop being conscious of it.

    The "soot" is actually pulverized rubber from tires, exhaust particulates, etc that come off of and out of cars, mixed together, etc. You're not supposed to consider that dirty, that's Freedom. But if a cyclist even farts......

  13. #13
    to young to be a senior
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    A good topic to be exposing/ ill change my route if posible to avoid the smog.
    One day laywers could make themselves usefull and tackle the fuel companys
    into cleanning up there act simular to the tobacco companys.
    Last edited by crank'n; 05-09-05 at 02:36 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by andygates
    Soot gets stuck in your snot: that's what snot is for. Blow out black loogies and you're fine.

    Fumes are worst at the tailpipe level. Most cyclists are well above this, so we're not getting all that much nastiness. Compare to a driver, whose car air intake is right in front of the car in fron't tailpipe
    Most cyclists who ride long and hard breath through both the nose and mouth, so it is unlikely that you're fine and even the nose is not going to catch all the soot.

    And if you happen to cycle in traffic regularly it has got to be very bad. You don't need to have your face right at the tailpipe level to be breathing in large amounts of soot.

    And doesn't the air intake on a car have filters?

  15. #15
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    There are only intake filters on the air going to MV engines, not to the vent, which is the air you breath in side the vehicle. The difference between bicycling and motoring is that motorists aren't exercising on the road, so they're not breathing as deeply as a cyclist.

    Diesel fumes are particularly noxious, and have not been adequately regulated due to the strong trucking industry lobby, which turned back diesel emission standards when congress passed laws regulating the emissions from other motor vehicles, way back in the 70's. Cleaner diesel emissions are still a few years off. Your nose doesn't filter diesel particulates from the air, see below:

    From NRDC, http://www.commondreams.org/news2003/0610-13.htm :
    Why EPA Must Reduce Diesel Emissions:

    Particulate soot from diesel engines has been linked with increased asthma attacks and emergencies, cancer, endocrine disruption, heart ailments, and premature death.

    Virtually all diesel particulate soot is less than one micron in diameter, i.e., small enough to evade our respiratory defenses and lodge in the deepest recesses of our lungs.

    The U.S. EPA and the World Health Organization's cancer research agency agree that diesel exhaust is likely to cause cancer.

    In midtown Manhattan, diesel engines emit more than half of the PM inhaled by New York pedestrians, even though gasoline vehicles outnumber diesel vehicles by ten-to-one in New York State.

    Diesel nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions contribute significantly to the nation's chronic summertime smog (or ozone) and acid rain, as well as to water pollution in the NYC drinking water system and other large water bodies, crop damage and forest impacts.

    More than 82 million Americans live in areas that do not meet EPA's upcoming health standard for particulate soot. More than 122 million Americans live in areas that do not meet EPA's health standard for daily exposure to ozone smog.

    More FAQs on diesel emissions: http://www.nett.ca/faq_diesel.html

  16. #16
    done with civilization
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    This is sad....I hate breathing bad air.

  17. #17
    Just riding andygates's Avatar
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    So instead of spending $20 on a filter mask, donate it to your local clean air campaign

  18. #18
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    I used to commute in London where the diesel fumes were much worse than here in LA. I did some research at the time and found that the best way to combat the fumes - apart from a cycle mask - were to consume fruit and vegetables high in antioxidents. I did a quick google search again now, and there's plenty of info. available. But as a quick overview. Antioxidents are the powerful natural substances that can counteract the 'free radical' chemicals that can be contained in the body due to inhalation of car exhaust fumes. The best way to consume antioxidents is to find fruit and vegetables that are high in phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are nutrients concentrated in the skins of many vegetables and fruits, and are responsible for not just their color, but scent, and flavour as well. So, a good rule of thumb is: the deeper and richer the color of the fruit or vegetable, the more phytonutrients are present. So dark berries, dark grapes, peppers, red onions and fresh tomatoes are all what you should consume.

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