How You Can Help the Atmosphere & Your Health

May 14-18 is National Bike to Work Weekan event sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists.

Friday, May 18 has been designated as National Bike to Work Day.

Read below for some of the ways biking benefits both your health and the environment.

Americans are spending record amounts of time commuting and the roads have never been more packed. With spring here, now is a good time to stop fighting traffic and bypass the congestion by bike.  Biking is clean transportation! Consider leaving your car at home a few days per week to help reduce vehicle emissions:

􀂃 Fifty-five percent of all nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions come from cars. NOx is one of the main ingredients in ground level ozone formation. Ground level ozone can irritate the respiratory system, causing wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing, and is the main ingredient in “smog.” Long periods of exposure can cause permanent respiratory damage. NOx also contributes to acid rain, which can damage buildings, destroy aquatic ecosystems, and deteriorate water quality.

􀂃 Motor vehicles are responsible for 56 percent of all carbon monoxide (CO) emissions. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that reduces oxygen delivery to the body, impairs mental functioning, and like NOx, contributes to ground-level ozone formation.

􀂃 Cars, especially older cars and vehicles that run on diesel, emit particulate matter. Particulate matter causes health problems for individuals with heart and lung conditions. It also reduces visibility.

􀂃 Carbon dioxide (CO2) traps heat in the atmosphere. In the U.S., automobiles produce over 2 billion tons of CO2 each year.

􀂃 Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted by automobiles not only while running, but also after a car has been turned off because heat from the engine causes the molecules to evaporate. VOCs lead to ozone formation and can cause headaches, as well as eye, nose, and throat irritation.

Biking also benefits your health!

􀂃 Sixty percent of Americans engage in virtually no physical activity and 40 percent are clinically overweight. Biking at even a moderate pace burns about 400 calories an hour.

􀂃 Heart disease is the nation’s number one killer and is closely linked to obesity. Cardiovascular exercise like biking helps to reduce the risk of heart disease by raising levels of HDL “good” cholesterol, lowering levels of triglycerides, and lowering blood pressure.

􀂃 Biking provides cardiovascular benefits without putting too much stress on knees and joints.

􀂃 Freeway noise, traffic jams, and other stresses on the road can take their toll on a commuter’s mental health. Exercise, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce stress levels, and a bike commute provides a fun opportunity for outdoor activity.

When you do hit the road on your bike, make sure to take proper precautions to stay safe.

􀂃 Helmets reduce injury rates by 85 percent – choose one that fits snugly and sits flat on your head.

􀂃 Wear clothing that makes you visible to drivers – neon, reflectors, or other bright clothing. Avoid biking at night, when it’s harder to be seen.

􀂃 Check for traffic before entering intersections and ride with the flow of traffic to prevent accidents. Make sure you can hear what’s going on around you – never wear headphones while riding your bike.

For more information about National Bike to Work Week visit www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth/

This message was generated by Earth Gauge, a National Environmental Education Foundation Program.or Broadcast Meteorologists

4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 160

Washington, DC 20008

www.neefusa.org www.earthgauge.net

Sources:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation: http://www.epa.gov/air/urbanair/

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Indoor Air Quality: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html

Sullilvan, Will. “Road Warriors.” U.S. News and World Report. April 29, 2007: Accessed Online 12 May 2007

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070429/7gridlock.htm

The Benefits of Regular Physical Activity. Journal of the American Medical Association. June 14, 2000 – Volume 283, Number 22. Accessed

online 12 May 2007 < http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/283/22/3030.pdf>

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “10 Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety.”

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/343.html



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