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Here's How You Can Reduce Exposure to Air Pollution While Cycling, Walking

Oct 28, 2016 04:04 AM EDT

The alarming levels of air pollution pose serious health risk, with people being exposed to high concentration every time they walk or ride a bicycle for exercise or as means of transportation. Now, a new study from the University of British Columbia has calculated how fast a person should travel to significantly reduce exposure to air pollution.

The study, published in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, showed that cyclists traveling on city roads should ride at speeds between 12 and 20 kilometers per hour while pedestrian should walk at two to six kilometers per hour to reduce their exposure to air pollution.

"The faster you move, the harder you breathe and the more pollution you could potentially inhale, but you also are exposed to traffic for a shorter period of time. This analysis shows where the sweet spot is," explained Alex Bigazzi, a UBC transportation expert in the department of civil engineering and school of community and regional planning and lead author of the study, in a press release. "If you move at much faster speeds than the MDS -- say, cycling around 10 kilometres faster than the optimal range -- your inhalation of air pollution is significantly higher."

The MDS, or minimum-dose speeds, is the ideal travel speeds to minimize inhalation of air pollution. Bigazzi calculated the MDS using a U.S. Census-based computer model of 10,000 people. Bigazzi noted that the ideal MDS for different age and sex groups differ from each other. Female cyclist under the age of 20 should ride 12.5 kilometers per hour to lessen pollution risk. Male cyclists at the same age group should ride about 13.3 kilometers per hour. Male and female cyclists, between 20 and 60 years of age, have the ideal speeds at 13 and 15 kilometers per hour, respectively.

Male and female pedestrians below 20 years of age should be walking around three kilometers per hour, while those who are above 20 years of age should walk at least four kilometers per hour to breathe in the least amount of air pollution for every trip. Bigazzi assured people that they should not over think on how fast they are going because the MDS numbers are align pretty closely with how fast people actually move.

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