Reuters

An unfortunate intersection of trends.

In an unfortunate intersection of trends, the rise of running in China has coincided with the country's air pollution disaster. Marathons are growing fast, with participation hitting record numbers that are outpaced only by air pollution levels — a hashtag that translates roughly to "I don't want to be a human vacuum cleaner" has become one of the most popular phrases on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.
 
A standard air quality index is the measure of inhalable particulates, specifically PM 2.5, or fine particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5 microns; the WHO warns against daily levels exceeding 25 micrograms per cubic meter. The small size of these particles makes them the most hazardous, since they can pass through the lungs and into the circulatory system, causing cancer and cardiopulmonary disease. Runners breathe at 10 to 20 times the rate of a person at rest, increasing exposure -- and leaving China in a frantic race to clean up.
 

Click on the graphic to enlarge. (Graphic by Mark Byrnes)


Top image: Participants run on the Bund near Huangpu River as they compete in the Shanghai International Marathon. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a map of London Uber driver James Farrar's trip data.
    Transportation

    For Ride-Hailing Drivers, Data Is Power

    Uber drivers in Europe and the U.S. are fighting for access to their personal data. Whoever wins the lawsuit could get to reframe the terms of the gig economy.

  2. Smoke from the fires hangs over Brazil.
    Environment

    Why the Amazon Is on Fire

    The rash of wildfires now consuming the Amazon rainforest can be blamed on a host of human factors, from climate change to deforestation to Brazilian politics.

  3. An aerial photo of downtown Miami.
    Life

    The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Aren’t What You Think

    Looking at the population and job growth of large cities proper, rather than their metro areas, uncovers some surprises.

  4. a photo of a BYD-built electric bus.
    Transportation

    A Car-Centric City Makes a Bid for a Better Bus System

    Indianapolis is set to unveil a potentially transformative all-electric bus rapid transit line, along with a host of major public transportation upgrades.

  5. Fishing boats, with high rises on the banks and a mosque in the distance.
    Environment

    Will Sea-Level Rise Claim Egypt’s Second-Largest City?

    Al-Max village in Alexandria was ruined by floods in 2015. Yet, despite climate change’s growing threat to the city, critics say it has scarcely been addressed.

×