That warm sensation that fills your lungs

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Cyclist with pollution mask in London

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Ever sat behind a bus, riding in its wake, and wonder what you are breathing into your body?

“This filter really helps. Because of the buses, sometimes it is horrible. Like warm gas.” 

Photographer’s notes: Small changes in London, sometimes. I used to see this mask back in the eighties. So many riders would cycle home and filter out the pollution. I would ride home and simply breath the air. People might laugh at these devices, but I remember the other side.

I used to ride about 12 kilometres home, riding south through the main arteries. At home, I would take a white tissue and blow my nose. A mass of black soot and debris would be expelled. It was a constant reminder about the particles, the pollution, that was a constant.

I think it has gotten better in London. The Congestion Charge has cut back on the number of cars on the road. Better engines, better gasoline mixes. But the pollution is still there, still heavy. Take a long ride and do the tissue paper test. See if this mask does not make a lot more sense.

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