(We are still reeling from the senseless violence in Boston, and mourning the loss of life, the terrible injuries, and the big city races that are now forever changed. I wrote about the bombings over at my author website. Before this heinous and senseless act, I had written about running and air pollution for Moms Clean Air Force. Here is part of that post.)
While thumbing through my recent Runner’s World magazine, I found a short article about running and air pollution. As an air quality activist and a long-time runner, this article fit a cross-section of my interests. It took me back about 20 years, to when I was visiting my aunt in Los Angeles. I went for a run in the dingy haze, on a high traffic street. I learned later it was an ozone alert day. I came back, and my aunt said that my run had probably been the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes.
Did I benefit more from the run or damage my lungs from running during a bad air day?
The article highlighted the hundreds of thousands of runners across the U.S. who are affected by poor air quality daily. City runners are faced with air pollution from vehiclesand industry. These exposures can lead to an increased chance of heart and lung disease. Suburban runners are hit with increased pollution from mowers, weed whackers, and lawn chemicals. Country runners (yours truly) are not spared, either. Agriculture, wildfires, dust from dirt roads (hello, Vermont!) can all cause respiratory problems.
image by Kurt Budliger Photography