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unhealthy air quality: would you ride?(19 posts)

unhealthy air quality: would you ride?Fred(notFred)
Jun 28, 2001 12:02 PM
For the second day in a row, the Washington DC area has been under an ozone-type "unhealthy" air quality warning, which says that "active children and adults ... should limit prolonged outdoor exertion"

I'd like to hear other cyclists' thoughts on riding on such days. I've been staying off the bike myself. Even out walking, I have felt a heaviness to the air, but maybe it's just the humidity.
re: unhealthy air quality: would you ride?LC
Jun 28, 2001 12:21 PM
I cyclist in good condition can take in 10 times the amount a air that most people will breath in a day. I would drive my bike out of town and then ride.
call me a dumbass, but I do it.pmf
Jun 28, 2001 12:22 PM
I too live in DC. I commute all through the summer. Its probably not the best thing to do, but I do it. Since the EPA redefined a red danger zone downward a few years ago, you're going to see a lot of them in the next few months. A few years ago, today would be an orange zone day rather than a red zone day. I figure riding in the morning isn't too bad, but the commute home next to I-66 is probably not real healthy. Just take it easy and don't go too hard.

I thank all the people driving their SUVs to work all by themselves everyday that get 12 miles per gallon for this great air quality we have here.
call me a dumbass, but I do it.Fred(notFred)
Jun 28, 2001 1:09 PM
You're no dumbass; when you gotta ride, there's no substitute. We must ride the same route. Perhaps a bunch of us should get off the path and ride on 66, urging the drivers to commute via bike.
Jun 28, 2001 1:44 PM
I live in Vienna and commute to DC. Sometimes its the best part of my day. The W&OD trail is worth a mint to me. Not many places where you can ride to work on a dedicated bike path away from the traffic.

Riding on 66 sure would be scary.
re: unhealthy air quality: would you ride?G
Jun 28, 2001 12:32 PM
It seems like every other day we have a code orange day with a code red every so often. To be honest, I never have seen any diffence in how it feels outside no matter what the air quality. Here in NC its always hot and humid in the summer, and you just get used to it. If you are concerned maybe you should check with your physician.
Thought about buying a gas maskBrian C.
Jun 28, 2001 12:34 PM
Southern Ontario has had a bad air warning all week. One headline and a radio commentator even went so far as to describe the air as 'poison.' These warnings started a few weeks ago, and everyone's pointing to the automobile, of course.
(Funny, but when a huge snowfall hits, the authorities someimes order that people not drive their cars except for emergencies. Why not for these days when the skyline has a brown streak? Ought there be a crackdown on single-occupant cars on days like this? We are, after all, talking about the air we breath.)
I've considered buying a face mask especially designed for cyclists. A local outfitters' store sells them - it looks similar to what you'd wear if you were sanding plaster and it has a charcoal filter.
It must be uncomfortable on hot days and it's not very stylish - indeed, it must look downright goofy; but perhaps it would be a fitting statement about the condition of our environment.
The sad part of this is you can't escape the bad air by going out in the country.
Thought about buying a gas maskLC
Jun 28, 2001 12:42 PM
I don't think a mask would help, because the major concern is the carbon monoxide, which is a gas and can not be stopped by some sort of filter. It could help with some pollen or other dust, but not gas.
ride in mornings or at lunchbianchi boy
Jun 28, 2001 12:38 PM
I work for a state air quality agency that issues these ozone alerts. Ozone is a product of pollution as well as heat and sunlight, so it generally doesn't reach unhealthy levels until mid to late afternoon. I don't think you need to quit riding on code orange or red days, but try to ride in the mornings or at lunch. If afternoon is the only time you can ride, try to go after dinner and take it easy. However, if you have asthma or other respiratory conditions, it's probably a good idea to skip the afternoon rides altogether on high ozone days.

There is probably an ozone hotline or website you can check in your area for actual ozone concentrations. The code orange and red alerts are forecasts based on weather conditions and other factors, so the actual levels can vary quite a bit if you've had local thunderstorms or the day ends up being cloudier than expected. If it's hotter and sunnier than expected, however, the levels can be even higher.

Ozone is an irritant to your throat and lungs. Exposure to high levels while excercising vigorously can cause irritation similar to sunburn on these tissues, making you more susceptible to colds and other respiratory ailments.
is it cancerousishmael
Jun 30, 2001 12:20 PM
i hate polution...i feel like i should be able to sue someone for ruining MY air...please tell me all you know...who do i complain to and how bad is it
a couple alternatives...FlySpinner
Jun 28, 2001 12:39 PM
I too have felt the heaviness in the air... Air quality here in Greenville, S.C. is not what it used to be... no where near your AQ issues up in DC.

This year I have shifted my rides to mourning this summer in hopes to avoid bad air (seems to me AQ gets worse as the day goes on). I also try to ride away from the metro area staying more to the country side (don't no if this helps avoid the bad stuff... Trees do produce good Oxygen, right... and block the wind(added benefit)).

IMO these two things help minimize my exposure to bad air quality. I don't know if the late afternoon (6pm to dark) exhibits these same qualities. I have also noticed the air seams fresher after a good thunder storm [I've not started chasing them... (yet). AQ gets much worse, Maybe ;-))]

just my thoughts,
yes, but I'd climb out of itmr_spin
Jun 28, 2001 12:47 PM
I don't think you have this option in DC, but we've got mountains here. You can climb up over the inversion layer and enjoy clean crisp air. Plus, they give those warnings for people who are really sensitive. Your average cyclist won't be.
I rideScottH
Jun 28, 2001 1:43 PM
I have asthma and I still ride on ozone days. Here in Austin we are getting dust blown in from California (I think) to the point we have a haze and I will be on the bike tonight after I leave the office. I ride unless it is cold or wet.
Get out theremike mcmahon
Jun 28, 2001 1:46 PM
If I skipped smog days in LA, I'd be off my bike all summer and much of the spring and fall. Fortunately, I do most of my riding in the early morning hours before all those tailpipe emissions have made their way into the air. Although a thorough medical examination might prove otherwise, I don't think I've sustained any long-term damage to my lungs from all these years of riding in smoggy LA.
SoCal inland riderDMoore
Jun 28, 2001 2:28 PM
I live 50 miles inland of LA, and all their smog ends up in my neighborhood. If I didn't ride in smog, I couldn't ride 9 months out of the year. I don't have the luxury of morning rides during the week, so I do 50 to 100 miles per week in the smoggy afternoons.

Frankly, I don't trust air that I can't see...

If riding in smog messes up my lungs, not exercising will make me fat, or clog my arteries, or whatever. As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, "It's always something."
Our smog was there before you were ;-) (nm)mike mcmahon
Jun 28, 2001 2:59 PM
I rode Wednesday AM in Prince Wm Co. ... seemed OK.Humma Hah
Jun 28, 2001 10:01 PM
By late afternoon the air was getting kinda thick, but in the morning, before the ozone had a chance to stew, the air wasn't bad at all, and the temperature was moderate. I put in my usual 23-miler with no hint of lung problems.
But boy, was it icky today (Friday) ...Humma Hah
Jun 29, 2001 2:12 PM
I got out for my ride a little late today, rolled the garage door up right at noon. A second later, the distinct tang of ozone hit my nostrils. The sky was almost white with haze. Humidity was very high, and the temperature had climbed faster than it had on Wednesday.

I backed off the pace, content to let this be a base-miles ride. I did feel a trace of tickle in my nose and lungs if I tried to push, so mostly I just took it easy.
re: unhealthy air quality: would you ride?mackgoo
Jun 29, 2001 12:17 AM
I would ride.