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Study finds particulate siloxane and cigarette smoke organic aerosol in a gym environment

Scientists find out what you breathe while breaking a sweat
An Inside Look at a Basement Gym with Air Quality Monitoring Instruments in the Study. Credit: Yele Sun

A recent study led by Prof. Yele Sun from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences investigated the air quality in a basement gym. The study was published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

"Thinking back to the pandemic, my colleagues and I made a point of hitting the gym in our institute's basement more often," Prof. Sun recalls. "[We] couldn't help but wonder what the air quality would be like with everyone breaking a sweat down there."

This prompted Prof. Sun and his team to investigate the composition and concentration of pollutants in gym environments, recognizing the importance of understanding associated with physical exercise.

Their study showed that indoor air in the gym had a higher percentage of organic aerosols ( suspended in the atmosphere that are composed of ) compared to outdoor air. Inside the gym, about 50% of the stuff you're breathing in is organic aerosols, whereas it's only around 40% outside.

They identified two special types of organic aerosols in the gym air:

  1. Siloxane OA (SiOA): This term refers to particles that likely come from the lubricants used in gym equipment. These particles were found to be surprisingly high, sometimes reaching up to 6 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
  2. Cigarette smoke OA (CSOA): Traces of cigarette smoke were found in the air, and it was probably transported from outdoors, especially during ventilation.

While hitting the gym is fantastic for health, these findings suggest that along with burning calories, gym-goers might also be inhaling some not-so-great stuff. Especially when their breathing rate kicks up during exercise, they're taking in more of these particles, which could potentially impact health. Different gyms with various equipment, occupancy rates, and might have different air quality levels.

More information: Yele Sun et al, Particulate Siloxane and Cigarette Smoke Organic Aerosol in a Gym, Environmental Science & Technology Letters (2024). DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.4c00288

Citation: Study finds particulate siloxane and cigarette smoke organic aerosol in a gym environment (2024, May 8) retrieved 17 June 2024 from
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