Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

Exercise and Air Pollution


The long-term health effects of exposure to polluted air are not yet known. Preliminary studies suggest there may be some permanent reduction in lung function from high-level exposure. All of us can encourage coaches and race directors to schedule training and events at times to minimize ozone exposure. Dr. Gong at UCLA advises athletes not to exercise if the ozone concentration is .20 ppm or greater.

Other pollutants

Sulfur dioxide is produced by the combustion of sulfur-containing fuels (coal and oil), and affects asthmatics more than other people. Symptoms are worse in cold air, but pretreatment with inhaled bronchodilators (albuterol) or allergy modifiers (cromolyn) lessens the airflow restriction. These medications do not seem to help nonasthmatics.

Nitrogen dioxide from fuel combustion and cigarette smoking is a precursor to ozone and reacts with water to form nitrous acid (N02). It is responsible for the brown color and pungent odor of smog. The health standard is set at .05 ppm averaged over a year.

Exercise studies done at .5 - 1.0 ppm, mimicking high levels of outdoor pollution, have found only slight changes in lung function, and researchers have so far concluded that nitrogen dioxide is not dangerous for outdoor exercise.

However, concentrations of 1.0 ppm or higher in indoor settings produce respiratory dysfunction. High levels of nitrogen dioxide and outbreaks of respiratory illness have been reported in industrial settings and in indoor ice rinks. In the latter, the source was a malfunctioning engine of the ice resurfacer.

Polluted air can also contain a variety of particulates. These are visible as soot, dust or smoke. They contain airborne pollens, molds, sulfuric acid and lead. Asthmatics appear to be more sensitive to particulates; other people increase mucus production and may cough, but seem to have no significant short-term impairment of lung function. Long-term exposure, however, is very difficult to research, and its effects are generally not known.

More is known about carbon monoxide.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

General Health
Common Medical Problems
Dental Health
Infectious Disease
Sexual Health
Emotional Well-Being
Eating Disorders
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Environmental Health

The information in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.

Copyright 2000 - Sports Doctor, Inc.