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Air Pollution and Elite Athletes

By Dr PS Wong

Epidemiological studies and research indicated that prolonged exposure to contaminants in the environment lead to decrease in cardiopulmonary function. One may breathe via nasopharynx and oropharynx when exercise and if exercise is performed in a polluted environment, this way of breathing will decrease the nasal cavity ability to filter the contaminants. In addition, the alveolar ventilation and ventilation rate increase during exercise, therefore, one may inhale more contaminants and they will enter the bloodstream via the exchange of air in the lungs. Research also indicated that risk of inflammation is increased when exercising in a polluted environment, leading to highly risk of infection. Therefore, the control of air pollution is important to the athletes.

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