Color runs may be hazardous to health: groups
By Katherine Wei,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Runners looking forward to a string of “color” marathons in Taiwan were warned yesterday to be aware of the harmful effects the colored corn starch thrown in the events may have.
September 4, 2013, 2:20 am TWN
The Color Run, founded in Utah, North America and boasting that it has no winners or prizes, has spread throughout the world since 2012.
Earlier this summer Taiwan saw its first color run when the Color Me Rad 5K was held.
Taiwanese have shown their enthusiasm for the events, flooding the sign-up systems while those who did not manage to register called for an “anti-event”: a flour run that douses runners with plain white flour.
Eco-Groups Voice Concerns
Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) declined to comment on the runs as a trend and whether they should be further promoted, but noted that runners should be aware that the colored powder poses a threat to the environment and requires a tremendous amount of water to wash off completely.
The organizers should consider the social cost of this type of marathon, and take responsibility for cleaning up after each run, said Shen.
Several runners have expressed online their pre-run anxieties concerning possible health problems associated with the colored corn starch when breathed in, said Shen.
The first of the marathons in Taiwan, held on Aug. 18, left organizing staff cleaning the site for hours afterward, said Shen.
The organization in charge of the runs should notify prospective runners about the colored powder's ingredients and include references to the potential health problems the powder may induce, said Chen Jiao-huah (陳椒華), head of the Taiwan Water Protection Union (TWWPU).
Marathons were originally intended to encourage good health, but the powder may pose a threat to the health of runners, Chen stated.
Those with Asthma, Allergic Rhinitis Shouldn't Run: Doctors
The powder thrown during the marathons, whether colored or not, are like dust particles floating in the air that the runners breathe in, and these particles may cause the respiratory tract to seize up, resulting in infections, said Huang Jing-lung, the deputy superintendent of Chang Gung Medical Hospital.
People with asthma, allergic rhinitis, and those with certain forms of lung disease or with weak cardiovascular systems are cautioned against running in these events, said Huang, who added that if runners are still keen to run, they should wear medical masks and quit at the slightest hint of discomfort.
Powders Passed FDA Regulations: Organization
IMG Worldwide, the global sports, fashion and media company in charge of the Color Run series, claimed that the powder used in the marathons have all been approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States, the contents being simply corn starch dyed with food coloring.
Despite the company's declarations, netizens in Taiwan have begun to oppose the fun-runs due to the environmental damage they may cause, which may extend to future events like zombieruns and bubble runs.