Wildfire Smoke Takes Toll on Bike Commuters

How can people on bikes protect their lungs from the harmful effects of wildfire smoke?

1 minute read

June 30, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Male cyclists wearing helmet, sunglasses, and N95 mask stands with arms crossed in front of his bike

Elizaveta / Adobe Stock

As wildfires become more common and more widespread, worsening air quality around the country and the continent, bike commuters are faced with having to protect themselves from air pollution even as they participate in what is ostensibly one of the healthiest ways to get around. “Others have no choice but to bike — whether it is the main source of transportation to employment, or is directly linked to employment such as delivery drivers.”

In an article in Momentum Magazine, Ron Johnson outlines some guidance for staying safe during smoky days. Key tips include staying hydrated, monitoring your symptoms, and using the highest-rated filters in HVAC systems. 

For cyclists biking long distances, Johnson recommends taking a break at a library, mall, or other public spaces that offer smoke-free indoor areas and wearing NIOSH or N95 masks to reduce the impact of fine particles. “However, it is important to note that respirators do not provide protection against the gases present in wildfire smoke. Paying attention to your body and reducing or stopping activities if symptoms arise is crucial.”

Thursday, June 29, 2023 in Momentum Magazine

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