The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
When Should You Start Writing Your College Essay? 
When Should You Start Writing Your College Essay? 
May 28, 2024

Let's be frank: there's never an ideal moment to craft college essays. At best, there are times that are somewhat less unfavorable. Why is...

Colorado State University conducts study of pollution on commuters

(Photo Credit: )
A study participant wears one of the backpacks used in the study while biking. The backpacks contain multiple sensors to measure the air pollution commuters are exposed to while biking or driving. (Photo Credit: Taylor Carpenter )

Biking to work or school may help the environment but it might not be helping the biker, a Colorado State University study suggests.

The  Commuter Study, led by John Volckens and Jennifer Peel out of CSU’s Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, studies the health effects of air pollution on commuters around Fort Collins.


The $2.1 million study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims to gain information on the type of air pollution people are exposed to depending on how they commute and which route they take, Peel said.

“In your working lifetime, you’re going to spend about two years commuting,” Volckens said. “Two years of breathing in bad air is a long time and if our study can generate information that can help you make informed decisions to reduce your exposure, that’s great.”

In each phase, participants wear backpacks including multiple sensors that measured air pollutants emitted by vehicles — including carbon monoxide and particulate matter.

According to Volckens, in phase one, which occurred in late 2013, participants took their own routes to school or work while the backpacks took snapshots of the air and measured the pollutants they were exposed to.

In phase two, the study attempted to make a model that would predict a person’s exposure to air pollution depending on their route.

Aaron Fodge, parking and transportation services manager at CSU, participated in phase two of the study. He hoped the study helps guide people in deciding which routes to take around the city.

“It’s exciting that we have real life transportation research being done at CSU,” Fodge said. “It got me thinking about the routes I take.”

In phase three, which began on September 15, participants were given random prescribed routes to travel, and focused on the health effects the pollution causes.

So far, no conclusions on health effects could be made from the results, according to Peel and Volckens. They did discover that there is a difference in pollutant exposure between drivers and bicyclists.


“Bicyclists are exposed to more particulate matter than drivers,” Volkens said. “On the other hand, drivers are exposed to more carbon monoxide than bicyclists.”

The study, which will run through 2016, will be accepting new participants this winter for the last round of data collection.

Collegian Reporter Sady Swanson can be reached at or on Twitter @Sadyswan

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *