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Impact of Air Pollutants on Athletic Performance

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Human controlled and observational studies both lead to the conclusion of air pollution adversely affecting athletic performance during training and competition. The dosage of various air pollutants during exercise is much higher due to the marked increase in ventilatory rate and concomitant nasal and oral breathing. This is particularly true for sulfur dioxide which is a highly water soluble gas and is normally absorbed in the upper airway during nasal breathing. With heavy exercise, oral pharyngeal breathing is the predominant mode of breathing and much larger amounts of sulfur dioxide are delivered to the lower airway resulting in significant impact upon the lower respiratory tract.

More recently, several controlled human studies have shown that a combination of exercise and air pollutants such as ozone (O3) or sulfur dioxides (SO2) cause a significant increase in bronchoconstriction and air flow obstruction when compared to the same exposure at rest.

In strenuous athletic competition such as the Olympic Games where small increments of time often determine the ultimate success of athletes, the impact of air pollutants and subsequent adverse ventilatory changes can affect athletic performance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1989-05-01

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

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    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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