Monday, July 17, 2017

The Dust You Inhale When Running on Dirt Roads

I enjoy my long runs. When I moved from the tarred suburbs to the country side, my trails turned from solid road to dirt road. I always tried to hold my breath when a car drove past and kicked up a light cloud of dust around me - not easy when you're on a good run! Today I present whether the dust you inhale from dirt road runs are bad for you or not, and what to do about it.

Whether you are a bodybuilder using cardio to boost muscle growth, taking a leisurely jog as part of an active rest day, use the road as part of your high intensity interval training routine or are pursuing the activities that burn the most calories, you might have wondered whether breathing in the dust around you is making your exercise less healthy.

Minimal amounts of dust are safe...

The truth is that we inhale dust all the time - not just when you are on the road. There are millions of tiny air-born particles in the air that you breathe, wherever you are. Dust and other particles that are found in the air are eliminated by your lungs when they are in small quantities. According to, the cilia in your lungs are responsible for moving particles out of your lungs. They do this through the mucus mechanism.

Too much dust is not safe agrees with the fact that cilia moves dust out of your lungs, but says that they only do this at trace (or low) concentrations. Too much dust can lead to dust pneumonia. This happens when too much dust travels further than what it is supposed to and can't get out of your lungs. This can lead to infection, pneumonia and lung failure. This is an extreme case, but it is still possible. The first sign of too much dust inhalation is a dry cough. Your body is trying to expel the dust because there is too much for your cilia to handle to handle on their own. The next sign is coughing up of excessive mucus. This mucus can be mud-colored (from the dust), green or yellow. The excessive dust and mucus and can cause wheezing. Chest pain can occur from too much stuff in your lungs or restriction of your air passageways. If this all becomes infected, symptoms can advance to fever or septic shock.

The moral of the story

If you aren't coughing up a storm, struggling to breath or feel any pain; the amount of dust you inhaled will likely be taken care of by your lungs. All the same, try to inhale as little dust as you can, if possible. Avoid running in dust storms and other scenarios that will lead to excessive dust inhalation. Your body naturally expels this inhaled dust. If you are experiencing coughing, pain or asthmatic symptoms; see your doctor as soon as possible to prevent the risk of things elevating out of control. For the times that you are going to run through excessive dust or dirt, protect your air passageways by covering them with materials that will filter out the dust.

What about color runs?

Now that we're talking about particle inhalation, might as well bring up the stuff you could inhale at color runs. Color runs are running events where people are dowsed with all kinds of colorful powders. They have become very popular.
Let's start off by saying that reports that the colored powder is highly flammable. Firefighters lit the substance to test its flammability and it exploded into a ball of fire. Make sure you're not running next a smoker! Unless you like fireworks... sent out one of their reporters to participate in a race. They then sent the colorful substances covering her body to the lab for testing. A mixture of corn starch and food coloring was found. These were found to be non-toxic. The article did warn, however, that dangers could arise if you are allergic to corn starch or certain food coloring.

As always, make sure that you stay hydrated and get the right electrolytes that you need and get those electrolytes from the right sources. Fuel up before any cardio session you do. Eating carbohydrates before cardio could help you lose even more fat. STAY STRONG!