Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Hard Ride: Traffic-Related Pollution May Alter Heart Function in Urban Cyclists

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Hard Ride: Traffic-Related Pollution May Alter Heart Function in Urban Cyclists

Article excerpt

People who ride bicycles along roadways may incur considerable exposure to traffic-related air pollutants that have been associated with adverse respiratory and cardiovascular effects in epidemiologic studies. A new study examined changes in heart rate variability (HRV) and respiratory factors in cyclists exposed to traffic-related air pollutants and found that ultrafine particles as well as ozone and nitrogen dioxide ([NO.sub.2]) altered autonomic regulation of the heart [EHP 119(10):1373-1378; Weichenthal et al.].

Forty-two healthy individuals (28 men and 14 women aged 19-58 years) participated in the study, which involved cycling for 1 hour indoors or along high-traffic or low-traffic routes in Ottawa, Ontario. Thirty-eight participants completed all three routes. Continuously recorded electrocardiograms provided cardiac data, and respiratory function was measured by spirometry. Cyclists were equipped with pannier-mounted instruments to collect real-time information on fine particles, ultrafine particles, and black carbon, while technicians on bicycles equipped with volatile organic compound monitors traveled with the participants. Data for ambient ozone, [NO.sub.2], and sulfur dioxide came from a fixed monitoring station in downtown Ottawa.

In the 3 hours after cycling, short-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution was associated with altered autonomic regulation of the heart, specifically parasympathetic modulation. …

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