Study: City Cyclists Breathe Lots of Black Carbon

Your lungs probably hate you

I’m thinking this is one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situations.

New research out of London found that urban cyclists inhale more than twice as much black-carbon-laced vehicle exhaust than pedestrians. Black carbon, thought to be a major contributor to global warming, has some pretty nasty health effects, including asthma, lung disease and heart disease.

To be fair, the study was tiny: Researchers only looked at a group composed of five cyclists and five pedestrians. But they think the differences between the black-carbon levels in the two groups lies in how deeply cyclists breathe while they ride—the deeper the breath, the more soot you’re taking in. You know, just something else to worry about while you’re in the saddle, as if deranged drivers weren’t enough.

So, that leaves cyclists with a few options: Stop riding your bike or wear a gas mask while you do it. Or, hey, here’s a thought: Let’s all just start driving cleaner cars. Whatcha think?