Cycling and microplastics: An experience from Time trialling & breathing them in

So I unpacked my TT bike from the car after a 50 mile Time Trial partly along a busy A road (A52) and noticed a fine black dust all over the front of the white frame. Then I realised what it was: Tyre residue.

Recently I have been cleaning my chain very carefully, but noticing that even after a 10mTT there is a black residue on it, even on a dry night, starting with a brand new chain.

I work with people in the water industry who talk about micro-plastics in river pollution caused by the tyre residue running off roads into water courses, and it also being blown onto local farmers fields. It is also brake material dust. Here are a few of articles about tyres and micro-plastic pollution:

It occurs to me that I am also breathing this stuff in (at max VO2 sometimes). Of course this is not simply a time trialling issue, its an issue on any road for any types of cyclist. I mainly cycle in the country, not in towns or cities, where there are other hazards to health (from pollutants to large metal moving things).

Now I am not going to give up cycling, because there is clearly a net benefit to health. But I do sometimes worry that if all that crap has gathered on my chain in a few miles… …what have I breathed in?

Thoughts people… (and no I do not plan to do TTs with a dust mask on - unless it improves my aerodynamics by 5 watts or more)

(PS Not sure which category to put this in.)