28th March 2011

Participants are being sought for a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) study looking at the extent of damage caused by air pollution when cycling close to traffic.

Participants need to be regular bike riders - riding to work at least twice a week - and would undergo some simple tests to see the effect air particle pollution had on them.

They would be tested on their current route, and then again on a route devised by QUT's Thomas Cole-Hunter in consultation with the particpant, further away from traffic pollution.

Mr Cole-Hunter, who is completing his PhD in conjunction with the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health, is halfway through a study investigating the extent and effect of air pollution on bike riders in Brisbane.

"When it comes to very large cities overseas, we know there is air pollution, but we don't know the extent of the threat in Brisbane," he said.

"It may not be too high at the moment, but with increasing development and more people moving here, it could be a big concern, so we want to see if we need to reduce that risk now.

"Our research so far has found that more than 70 per cent of people would be willing to change their commute route to incorporate a higher off-road component if it was important for their health, but it would have to be easily available and convenient too.

"The most important factors they considered were safety and the directness of the route."

In the next research phase, participants would be tested on two bike trips - one using their current route, and one using an alternative route planned by Mr Cole-Hunter and the participant.

"There will be simple tests which participants will do themselves immediately before, immediately after, one hour after and three hours after riding, to see what effect the ride has had," he said.

"They will be carrying a number of research instruments comprised of three monitors: UFP (Ultra Fine Particle), GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and Vital Sign monitors, and from these we will get a profile of air pollution exposure, heart and breathing rates and how much air they were breathing in.

"We will also be doing a few tests to see what effect toxins were having on their body."

He said he would like to test 30 people, but the more people who offered to participate the better.

Participants will be compensated for their time with a $20 voucher, and testing will begin next month continuing for six months.

Anyone interested in participating can call Mr Cole-Hunter on 3138 6457 or email t.cole-hunter@qut.edu.au.

Media contact: Sharon Thompson, QUT media officer - 3138 2999 or sharon.thompson@qut.edu.au

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