Impact of air pollution on running performance

Air pollution exposures during training may impact race preformances

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Impact of air pollution on running performance

Given the great variety of substances present in the atmosphere, numerous classification methods have been proposed: in the first place, it can be classified according to the chemical composition, so we are mainly talking about compounds that contain sulphur, compounds that contain nitrogen, compounds that contain carbon and halogen compounds.

Secondly, it can be classified according to the physical state: gaseous, liquid or solid; finally it can be divided according to the degree of reactivity in the atmosphere, into primary or secondary substances. The particulate is classified according to the diameter of the particles; those with a diameter greater than 2.5 µm are considered coarse and those with a diameter less than 2.5 µm are considered fine.

Furthermore, particles with a diameter of less than 10 µm (PM10) are distinguished as inhalable. The impossibility of identifying the properties of an uncontaminated reference environment leads to the introduction of the concept of atmospheric pollution by establishing a conventional standard for air quality.

Air whose composition exceeds the limits established by law in order to avoid harmful effects on humans, animals, vegetation, materials or ecosystems in general is therefore considered polluted. The Impact of air pollution on running performance study, published on the Scientific reports, told: "Air pollution exposures during training may impact race preformances.

We aggregated data on 334 collegiate male track & field athletes from 46 universities across the United States over 2010-2014. Using distributed lag non-linear models, we analyzed the relationship between race time and PM2.5, ozone, and two versions of the Air Quality Index (AQI) exposures up to 21 days prior to the race We observed at 12.8 (95% CI: 1.3, 24.2) second and 11.5 (95% CI: 0.8, 22.1) second increase in race times from 21 days of PM2.5 exposure (10.0 versus 5.0 μg/m3) and ozone exposure (54.9 versus 36.9 ppm), respectively.

Exposure measured by the two-pollutant threshold (PM2.5 and ozone) AQI was not significantly associated with race time however, the association for summed two-pollutant AQI (PM2.5 plus ozone) was similar to associations observed for the individual pollutants (12.4, 95% CI: 1.8, 23.0 s).

competing at elevated air pollution levels, even at exposures within AQI's good-to-moderate classifications, was associated with slower race times. This work provides an initial characterization of the effect of air pollution on running performance and a justification for why coaches should consider approaches to reduce air pollution exposures while training."