During the last week, Mexico City has been affected by poor air quality, which has led to the declaration of an environmental contingency in the country’s capital.
Although the main recommendation for this situation is that the population avoid exposing themselves as much as possible to the outdoors and staying indoors , the truth is that for a large percentage of people carrying out this recommendation is impossible.
Whether it’s going to work, school, or commuting, most people have to be exposed to air pollution.
In the case of cyclists, this exposure may represent a greater risk than for pedestrians, due to the amount of oxygen that is inhaled during pedaling.
If for any reason you must go out on your bike during these days, experts recommend following some tips to reduce exposure to poor quality air:
1. Choose to use quieter routes that are away from large concentrations of cars. Moving 50 to 100 meters away from car concentrations can reduce exposure to air pollution by 53% and, in some cases, up to 60%, depending on the type of pollutants.
2. Avoid crossing streets with tall buildings on each side . These areas, known as ‘urban canyons’, can have poorer air quality as pollutants are trapped.
3. Stay clear of polluting traffic as much as possible and avoid stopping at large intersections behind gas-emitting vehicles. “If you want to do something to prevent poisoning from polluted air, changing the route is the most effective,” said Cathryn Tonne, professor of environmental epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
4. When there is an environmental contingency, you should avoid practicing any type of physical activity outdoors at intervals greater than 60 minutes.
5. Pedal at a slow speed , thereby preventing more oxygen from being consumed, thereby reducing exposure to airborne pollutants.
6. Avoid pedaling during ‘rush hour’ . Going out “early in the morning, before the road chaos breaks out may be better,” said Stephen Holgate, professor of immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton in the UK.