What is Color Run?
A color run is an event in which runners, joggers, and walkers complete a shorter run, usually a five kilometer distance, and get doused in color powder at different check points along the run and at the big color throw after the finish.
They can wear brightly colored and white clothes so that at the end of the run they are completely colorful instead of just the solid color clothes from the beginning of the run.
They are super fun outings to do with your friends and family and to get some awesome looking before and after photos!
The powder is usually made out of corn starch, baking soda, and food safe dyes, so they will not hurt your skin or cause you any harm if you accidentally ingest any of the powder.
However, how could this powder affect someone with Asthma?
Will the color powder make the Asthma worse or will it stay relatively normal and under control?
How can the powder affect people?
The color powder used in these color run events will affect those with Asthma or other pulmonary health issues more than those without, but it will also affect those with completely healthy respiratory systems.
There has been research done on how corn starch based powders can cause damage if you inhale them, and while there is nothing specifically on the color powder used at color run events, there is research done on glove powder which is also corn starch based.
The results of a study done using glove powder were somewhat shocking as it showed that the powder does cause healthy adults some harm.
The corn starch based glove powder caused subclinical airway inflammation as well as a large number of eosinophilic granulocytes which create the possibility of causing tissue damage.
As well as the tissue damage, the corn starch based powder also caused adhesions which could cause your body to trigger multiple different inflammation responses that could ultimately result in scarring.
Answer: Is Running A Color Run with Asthma Safe?
While the color powder adds another level to the event, it could negatively impact the participants in the crowd who suffer with pulmonary and respiratory issues.
According to Dr. Kevin Parks of the Allergy and Asthma Center of Southern Oregon, inhaling the color powder during the runs can be irritating to the airways and cause a thickening of the mucous lining.
For those without any pulmonary issues, such as Asthma, this could lead to coughing, but ultimately will be fine and not a problem. For those with Asthma, inhaling the color powder could be similar to inhaling dust, wildfire smoke, or other pollutants.
This could lead to those participants who have Asthma to require their rescue inhaler during or after the event. These symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath, and in some cases needing a rescue inhaler could potentially last for several days.
Can I still participate?
The good news is that while there are risks to participating, you can still participate safely in these fun filled events!
Throughout the color stations where you will have the color powder thrown at you, the volunteers are instructed to throw the color powder at your lower body to try and keep the amount of color powder participants in the event inhale to a minimum.
However, the corn starch based color powder will still make its way up to your face and therefore to your nose and mouth.
The official color run website suggests that you bring a bandana or other cloth of some sort to wear over your nose and mouth in order to help filter out the air that you take in and block most of the powder.
This is especially important in a run as when you are running you are inhaling more, deeper, and faster. In addition to a bandana, you can bring a face mask to wear throughout your run to help block even more of the color powder from making its way into your nose and mouth. The Color Run FAQ
While taking these protective precautions, it is still important for you to have your inhaler on your body during these events as you are more likely to need it during athletic activities, especially events such as color runs where there are more irritants and pollutants in the air.