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 photo of a new subdivision of high-end suburban homes in Highland, Maryland.
    Equity

    Unpacking the Power of Privileged Neighborhoods

    A new study shows that growing up in an affluent community brings “compounding privileges” and higher educational attainment—especially for white residents.

  2. Equity

    In Need of Housing, Barcelona Fines Landlords For Long-Vacant Buildings

    The massive fines levied against the investment funds have been interpreted as a “declaration of war” from Mayor Ada Colau, who wants more affordable housing.

  3. Life

    Think You’re Faster Than the D.C. Streetcar? Think Again.

    Streetcars without dedicated lanes tend to be on the slow side. But beating this much-maligned public transportation mode on foot wasn’t as easy as it looks.

  4. Transportation

    Atlanta’s Big Transit Vote Is a Referendum on Race

    As suburban Gwinnett County weighs a MARTA expansion, changing demographics and politics may decide the Georgia capital's transportation future.

  5. Map of United States with Numbers on Each State
    Perspective

    The Affordable Home Crisis Continues, But Bold New Plans May Help

    Wyoming fares best; Nevada the worst. No state has an adequate supply of homes for its poorest renters a new National Low Income Housing Coalition report finds.