(Andrew, me and Steph finishing our first 5K last week! What is skill? Taking a photo while finishing your first 5K...)
What I like about running is the fact that it is free (after the cost of shoes) and that it's low impact on the environment. No one needed to heat and light a studio, create a mat, create equipment for us to run to the park and back. Although it will never take the place of yoga (running doesn't even come close to making me as happy), it's a convenient and low-cost addition to my "keeping my body healthy" routine.
Recently my Facebook page has been swamped by local runners promoting the Halifax occurrence of "Run or Dye".
(image from Run or Dye website)
Despite the clever name and the admittedly fun-looking promotion of getting people to run, there are some serious environmental and health issues regarding an event that propagates hundreds of packets of dyed cornstarch "just because".
Firstly, I did email Run or Dye asking for an ingredient list of their dye packets and received this response:
"The dye is made of a colored cornstarch. It is food grade and is safe for skin and clothes."
My concerns with this statement mostly deal with the inhalation of the powder. Running results in a larger amount of air exchange while breathing- we breathe at a higher frequency and typically longer, fuller breaths. Once we stop running, this breathing pattern takes some time to revert back to typical, at rest, levels.
(image from Run or Dye Facebook Page)
Re: corn starch inhalation:
1. ANY substance other than air should not be inhaled. Our lungs are built to manage and process air and has defence mechanisms built in to handle a certain portion of non-healthy air pollution (and even then, think of air pollution, cigarette smoke- we have limits). Our lungs are NOT made to eliminate solid particles. Part of my training as a Speech-Language Pathologist is to diagnose and treat swallowing disorders, which entails a significant knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of our pharynx and larynx (mouth and throat) and aspiration: what happens when solid particles bypass our vocal folds and enter the lungs.
2. A MSDS for corn starch states the following: "If inhaled remove to fresh air...". It is not recommended to inhale corn starch.
Re: "Safe" dyes:
1. Let's be honest, I don't have a lot of faith in the "FDA" seal of approval. As you can read from several recent scientific articles, despite increasing and strong evidence that "FDA approved food dyes" are linked to behavioural changes in children, the FDA decided there was 'insufficient evidence' and continued to state food dyes were safe for ingestion. (Synthic Food Colors and Neurobehavioural Hazards: The View From Environmental Health Research, Weiss 2012; Diet and Nutrition: The Artificial Food Dye Blues, Potera 2010)
2. Beyond the discussion of what is "food" safe- the participants of Run or Dye aren't actually, for the most part, ingesting the dye, they are inhaling it. A huge difference. The FDA have come to their (dubious) conclusions from research looking at how our digestive systems, equipped to break down and process potentially harmful substances via the digestive acids and enzymes, and not how the bronchiales in our lungs process synthetic, solid, dyes.
3. Further, no one is talking about how these synthetic dyes would impact the soil and vegetation. These Run or Dye events use up a LOT of dyed cornstarch that will be absorbed and left on the soil and waterways.
Re: plastic packets:
The shear waste of the plastic packaging that each participant will receive with their dyed cornstarch is disgusting. Although Halifax does have quite a bit of recycling bins around the city, they aren't always readily available. Also, most residents are aware that it is the law to recycle plastics, that doesn't mean that they do (or that there are any consequences if they don't). Of course, recycling is really not the answer to managing our plastic problem in any case.
I applaud Run or Dye with coming up with a creative, fun way to get people motivated to be physically active.
It's the obvious health and environmental (which is our health as well) ramifications that have me saying: "No Thank You."