Cycling & Summer Air Pollution Along the Wasatch Front

Cycling
on
June 18, 2018

By HEAL Utah & KÜHL Clothing

Whether you’re a casual cyclist or a professional training for the upcoming Tour of Utah, you’re guaranteed a gorgeous ride when you bike in Utah’s Wasatch Front. But there is one aspect of summer cycling that’s not so pretty — the ozone air pollution.

Even though ozone is invisible to the naked eye, it is a serious threat to our health. Our cars, buildings, and industrial sources give off harmful emissions (such as nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons) which mix together to form ozone. Along the Wasatch Front, ozone pollution increases  during summer months, and it’s getting worse, which you can read about here…and here…and here.

How ozone impacts your health & the environment:

  • Exposure to ozone can aggravate asthma, lung diseases, heart problems, and can cause permanent lung damage
  • The very young, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health problems are the most vulnerable to ozone
  • Ozone forms throughout the day, typically peaking between 4 PM – 6 PM
  • Ozone is directly tied to heat and sunlight, meaning that hotter, sunnier days lead to worse ozone
  • Ozone concentrates at higher elevations – so, unfortunately, riding up the canyons or on the benches may actually increase your exposure

“The effects of ozone can seem pretty daunting,” said Jessica Reimer of HEAL Utah, a Utah-based environmental nonprofit. “But by staying informed about pollution levels and planning your rides accordingly, you can easily protect your health and have a safe, invigorating workout.”

How you can protect your health & the environment while biking:

  • Avoid peak pollution by planning to ride in the early morning or later in the evening
  • If you are going to ride in the afternoon, try to stay at lower elevations
  • Keep an eye on air quality monitors or the UtahAir phone app and don’t ride on days that are unhealthy for you
  • Riding with friends? Carpool to the trail or, better yet, ride casually to your starting point
  • Don’t idle your car while loading or unloading your bike
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