Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Riding on a Code Orange day

Today the MWCOG Air Quality Forecast predicts a Code Orange day. The air is "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups." According to the AirNow.gov page Air Quality Index and your Health, "Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air."

Besides the sensitive groups, bicyclists are also at risk. According to this helpful Air Quality Index brochure, on Code Orange days, everyone should limit prolonged or heavy exertion. Bicycling qualifies a heavy exertion, and if it's done for several hours it's considered prolonged.

What can you do if you still rely on a bike for transportation? Ride slow. It may be hard for some of us to slow down, but it's highly recommended if you want to avoid damaging your lungs. It's definitely not a good idea to do extensive training. Code Red days are of course worse, and the recommendations include avoiding prolonged or heavy exertion. I do avoid riding on Code Red days. Fortunately July 7 was the only Code Red day in the region this year. See the MWCOG Air Quality Data page for more info.

See a map of today's air quality forecast for the U.S.  Maybe it's time for an Idaho vacation.

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