Choking us to death. Is science finally catching up?

Twelve years ago Toronto bike messengers warned of the dangers of smog to our health in “Choking us to death: The Air Pollution Crisis and Its Effects on Bicycle Couriers.”

Couriers pointed to a unique vulnerability due to exposure to both the ground-level ozone and particulate matter present in smog and to exposure to peek levels of pollution together with long-term exposure to non peak levels.

“Bicycle couriers work all day, year round in the midst of smog. Our lungs have minimal opportunity to recover from the effects of polluted air. We are chronically exposed to high doses of dangerously polluted air for long term, extended periods of time.”

The athletic nature of the profession requires messengers to “spend more time outdoors, breathe faster and engage in vigorous physical activity.”

This danger to couriers is exacerbated by the location of the athletic activity which means that a bike courier’s “lungs are not more than about 10 feet from an exhaust pipe for most of the day.”

Since the release of “Choking us to death,” many studies have confirmed couriers’ concerns.

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