On the heels of Bike-to-Work Day comes this excellent little bit of news: Bike commuters are less affected by air pollution than car and bus commuters, according to a new study published in the journal Epidemiology. The researchers found that even though bikers were exposed to more air pollution than vehicle passengers, their airways were less inflamed after the commute:
The Netherlands’ researchers measured three factors related to breathing ability – lung function, airway resistance and airway inflammation – among healthy, 18- to 56-year-old volunteers before and after they commuted for two hours by bus, car or bicycle. These measures were related to estimates of two sizes of particles (PM2.5 and PM10), the number of particles in the air and soot the commuters inhaled.
Car and bus commuters experienced more inflammation based on the amount of particles present and soot concentrations. While bicycle commuting exposed participants to higher levels of pollution, health effects were not changed among the bikers.
No word on why this is the case, but I’m tempted to chalk it up to the superior lung capacity of bikers.