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City cyclists monitored for particulate matter pollution and health impact

The New York Times: On Your Bike, Watch Out for the Air “…a five-year study…aims to find out at what point the harm done by pollution to cyclists might outweigh the health benefits accrued from the exercise…strapped-on sensors measure levels of PM 2.5, the fine particulate matter that is about one-thirtieth the diameter of a human hair and thought to be particularly harmful to health. The tiny particles, including black carbon, the main component of soot, penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream and may lead to the development of respiratory illnesses like asthma and lung cancer. Even relatively short-term exposures can increase body-wide inflammation and boost the likelihood of strokes and heart attacks. A 2014 report issued by the New York City Health Department said that particulates in the air cause more than 2,000 premature deaths and 6,000 emergency room visits and hospitalizations each year. And while the city has rapidly expanded its bike lanes and other bike-friendly infrastructure during the past decade, most of the planning to date has focused on traffic safety concerns, not pollution. So far, two years into the study, 40 cyclists have been recruited…The researchers are looking to recruit 150 more. The information collected will be used to create a street-level pollution map of New York and an app that will help bicyclists choose less polluted routes…”

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