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Effect of air pollution on athlete health and performance
  1. Kenneth William Rundell
  1. Correspondence to Kenneth William Rundell, Pharmaxis Inc, Medical Affairs, One East Uwchlan Ave, Suite 405, Exton, Pennsylvania 19341, USA; ken.rundell{at}


Unfavourable effects on the respiratory and the cardiovascular systems from short-term and long-term inhalation of air pollution are well documented. Exposure to freshly generated mixed combustion emissions such as those observed in proximity to roadways with high volumes of traffic and those from ice-resurfacing equipment are of particular concern. This is because there is a greater toxicity from freshly generated whole exhaust than from its component parts. The particles released from emissions are considered to cause oxidative damage and inflammation in the airways and the vascular system, and may be related to decreased exercise performance. However, few studies have examined this aspect. Several papers describe deleterious effects on health from chronic and acute air pollution exposure. However, there has been no research into the effects of long-term exposure to air pollution on athletic performance and a paucity of studies that describe the effects of acute exposure on exercise performance. The current knowledge of exercising in the high-pollution environment and the consequences that it may have on athlete performance are reviewed.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed