Cycling Could Expose Riders to Soot: Study

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Biking is widely encouraged as a healthy alternative mode of transportation, but a new study finds that commuters may be inhaling more city soot while riding than walking.

A recent UK study shows that city cyclists have more black carbon or soot in their lungs than pedestrians who walk the same route, reports The Atlantic Cities.

The findings show that inhaling soot -- generated from fossil fuel combustion -- is associated with adverse health effects such as heart attacks and decreased lung function.

To collect data, researchers tested whether cyclists are more exposed to soot than other types of commuters, specifically seeking to determine whether the way healthy adults commute to work affects their exposure to soot.

After collecting sputum samples from five healthy cyclists, who regularly bike to work, and five pedestrians, the researchers analyzed the black carbon levels found in the airways of the non-smoking participants, aged 18 to 40, according to Atlantic Cities.

Their findings showed that compared to the pedestrians, the cyclists had 2.3 times more black carbon in their lungs. And the probability that this happened by chance is less than 1 in 100.

The results were presented at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress on Sept. 25.

One researcher, also an avid cyclist, said that city cyclists should consider soot exposure when choosing commute routes to work.

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