Particulate Matter and Exercise

Particulate Matter and Exercise

Most people are aware that particulate matter (PM) pollution due to wood smoke is especially harmful to infants, the elderly, and those with cardiovascular and lung problems. What’s less well known is that PM pollution from wood smoke harms healthy people as well.

A recent article [2] in the journal Sports Medicine, “Small Things Make a Big Difference: Particulate Matter and Exercise,” reviewed the short- and long-term responses to PM inhalation during exercise and examined how PM exposure influences exercise performance.

The researchers found that breathing polluted air while exercising results in pulmonary inflammation, decreased lung function (both acute and chronic), an increased risk of asthma, vascular endothelial dysfunction, mild elevations in pulmonary artery pressure, and diminished exercise performance. Not exactly what a weekend warrior hopes to accomplish during a workout.

Wood smoke makes up over 30% of wintertime particulate pollution in many communities. As individuals, we can help reduce this source of air pollution by choosing not to burn wood. This winter, let’s work to get the word out about the hazards of wood smoke pollution—for the runners, for the bikers, for the hikers, for our families, and for ourselves.

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