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Jogging a health risk in the city?
Many people use running or jogging to integrate a little fitness into their everyday life. However, in view of the massive air pollution in some large cities, the question arises whether jogging may damage health rather than benefit. As part of the German Lung Day, experts from the German Respiratory League provide information about the dangers to the lungs from high air pollution.
"Big air - danger to the lungs" is the motto of this year's lung day. Nationwide, information events and campaigns are intended to provide information on the risks to the respiratory tract. It also looks at questions that affect everyday life, such as: Should jogging in the city be better avoided due to air pollution?
Significant air pollution in many cities
In many German cities, driving bans for diesel vehicles are already being discussed or implemented in view of the considerable air pollution. But air traffic is not the only factor that affects air quality, industry, agriculture and small combustion plants also play a role, according to the German Airways League. However, car traffic and especially diesel engines make a significant contribution to nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution. Older diesel vehicles often release large amounts of fine dust, but this is usually no longer the case with the newer models.
How harmful fine dust, NOx and ozone are to humans is adequately documented, according to the German Respiratory League. The relationship between damage to health and traffic emissions can only be deduced because the inhaled air is a mixture of pollutants from different sources. However, people living on busy roads are at higher risk of getting sick, and motor vehicle exhaust contains the pollutants mentioned, which is seen as evidence.
Increased risk of serious lung diseases
The experts are currently investigating the long-term effects of air pollutants in Europe in the ESCAPE project (European Study of Cohorts). Initial data are already available and it has been shown that particulate matter with a particle size of 10 µm (PM10) significantly increases the risk of lung cancer. A relationship between exposure to COPD and exposure to pollutants also tended to be confirmed. In addition, poorer pulmonary function was found with high exposure to PM10 and NOx. "For children, the risk of asthma increased, if not significantly," continued the announcement of the German Respiratory League.
Avoiding sports in city centers?
Air pollutants also favor pneumonia and a study from England has shown that lung function deteriorated when walking in high-traffic areas, the experts explain. This suggests that outdoor sports may be better avoided in city centers. But the general advantages of sporting activities are forgotten. The studies had made it clear that "the positive effects of physical activity outweigh the disadvantages that are associated with higher levels of air pollution," reports the German Airways League. There are therefore good reasons for physical activity, even in areas that are exposed to traffic. However, the possibility of training in areas with less air pollution should be preferred if possible.
How can the air quality be improved?
According to the experts, the limit values for air pollution are often just a compromise that should combine the desirable with the feasible. But a lot can be done to improve air quality. Here, cleaner engines and traffic organization measures as well as an attractive design of local public transport are possible measures. According to the experts, environmental zones also help. Initial analyzes have shown that sufficiently large environmental zones actually improve air quality. In the end, “we can all contribute to making our air better, e.g. by leaving the car behind for once ”; according to the German Airways League. Everyone is dependent on air to breathe and the goal must therefore be to ensure clean air for everyone and everywhere. (fp)