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July 28, 2008

Olympics — Extreme Pollution Dangerous For Athletes And Spectators

 The Olympics is less than two weeks away and despite the fact that the Chinese government has stopped traffic for the past two weeks and released rain clouds in hopes of ‘clearing the air’, pollution in Beijing remains extremely high. Visibility was down to half a mile in some parts, including the National Stadium, while the Athletes’ Village complex could not be seen from the nearby Olympic Green.

 Doctors have warned that the heavily polluted air in Beijing is dangerous not only for the athletes taking part, but also for spectators.

According to US doctors, people in certain risk groups who breathe high levels of pollution may be at an increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke within 24 hours of exposure. They also risk suffering blood clots in their legs on the plane home.

 Those considered vulnerable include people who already have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, a current smoking habit or a family member diagnosed with heart disease before the age of 55.

“If the air quality is bad, you are more likely to have serious heart disease-related events. Being exposed to higher levels of pollution may unmask heart disease even if you’ve never had any symptoms,” explained Dr. Gokhan Mutlu of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Mutlu published research last year which showed how pollution triggers heart attacks and stroke.

He discovered that microscopic air pollution – particles that are less than one-tenth of the diameter of a human hair – makes the blood thicker and sticky. He also found that when lungs are inflamed by pollution, they secrete a substance, interleukin-6, which causes an increased tendency for blood to clot.

He discovered that microscopic air pollution – particles that are less than one-tenth of the diameter of a human hair – makes the blood thicker and sticky. He also found that when lungs are inflamed by pollution, they secrete a substance, interleukin-6, which causes an increased tendency for blood to clot.

“If you spend a few weeks in Beijing, your blood might become thicker and sticky and then when you fly back home, that further increases your risk. If clots migrate into the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism, that can kill you,” he warned. Dr Scott Budinger, also of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, offered the following advice to people travelling to Beijing for the Olympics:

Men over 40 should take an aspirin each day to prevent their blood from becoming thick and sticky. While the benefits of aspirin are less certain for women, they should consider taking one each day too.

Stay indoors during traffic rush hour periods. Dr Budinger pointed out that indoor air pollution levels are always much lower than outdoor, so staying inside will limit your exposure.

On the plane, especially the return flight, frequently walk up and down the aisles and do leg exercises in your seat to prevent blood from pooling in the legs and clots from forming.

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6 Comments »

  1. Interesting article, I agree with most of what you said. Anyway, I got bad vibes about Beijing.

    Comment by Julien — July 28, 2008 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  2. Julien – I still don’t understand why the Olympic committee decided on Beijing. Their human rights stink, and their environment stinks.

    Comment by Paulette — July 28, 2008 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  3. I hope China does something about the pollution over the long term. Just hope it doesn’t affect the athletes.

    Comment by duttybwoy — July 29, 2008 @ 12:16 am | Reply

  4. Dutty I’m worried for the athletes. They are being put is a dangerous environment. China should not have won the bid to hold the olympics.

    Comment by Paulette — July 29, 2008 @ 12:28 am | Reply

  5. Holding the 2008 Olympic Games in Bejing was an excellent idea. Over the next 2 weeks, Bejing’s air quality will improve 10 fold as exerted athletes and gawking spectators breathe in all of China’s pollution, and take it home with them to their respective country of origin.

    Comment by Raccoon — August 9, 2008 @ 6:33 am | Reply

  6. If you ever want to hear a reader’s feedback 🙂 , I rate this article for 4/5. Decent info, but I just have to go to that damn msn to find the missed pieces. Thanks, anyway!

    Comment by Ex Girlfiend — April 9, 2009 @ 4:01 pm | Reply


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