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'Olympics' athletes' health, performances may be affected by high air pollution in London'

London, Mon, 16 Jan 2012 ANI

London, Jan 16(ANI): Olympics athletes' performances and health can be severely affected due to unacceptably high levels of air pollution in London, leading respiratory scientists have warned.


Experts said soaring pollution levels could adversely affect athletes' health and performance especially due to "temperature inversion" when a layer of warm air traps pollutants close to the ground.


"If we have a high-pressure temperature inversion period, there may well be high levels of ozone and nitrogen dioxide and these could induce coughs, breathlessness and other problems," The Independent quoted British Lung Association spokesperson Professor Sir Malcolm Green, as saying.


"If we're unlucky we're going to get bad publicity for our air quality. Athletes, such as marathon runners and cyclists, need to breathe very hard. If it's a high-pollution day, they will be taking in large amounts of pollution. Their chests may tighten up, they may feel pain and shortness of breath, and for certain conditions such as asthma they may need medication," King's College Environment Health Professor Frank Kelly said.


But London has not yet taken any stringent action to scale down pollution as witnessed during the 2008 Olympics when the Chinese government had issued a blanket ban on over the half the cars in Beijing and shut down polluting industries.


The UK government has unveiled an air quality strategy aimed at making medium and long term improvements in London, but has not yet devised any policy specifically for the Olympics.


The United Kingdom has the highest levels of the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2) among the European Union nations and had received several warnings for failing to comply with the European laws. (ANI)


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