London’s poor air quality could cause problems for Olympic athletes trying to break world records if a summer heat wave continues, British scientists said on Thursday as levels of pollution hit their highest levels since 2006.
The London Olympics has struggled with an array of teething problems in the run up to the Games, from security and transport concerns to the threat of union strikes. At one stage, even chilly wet weather looked like it might spoil the show.
But on the eve of the Games, temperatures and levels of ozone pollution have soared, breaking a World Health Organisation guideline and potentially causing breathing difficulties for athletes, King’s College University researchers said.
” won’t be able to get enough oxygen in the body to perform at the highest level. What that means is they probably won’t be breaking any records under these conditions,” Professor Frank Kelly, Director of King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group, told Reuters.
“They’re not ideal for athletics and certainly not for long distance events,” he added.
The British government issued an air quality warning for ozone levels on Wednesday after ozone concentration in parts of southern England reached over 190 micrograms per cubic meter.
The World Health Organisation guideline is 100.
Athletes are thought to be especially vulnerable because they breathe in lots of air very quickly over many hours, said Dr Gary Fuller, a senior lecturer in air quality measurement at King’s College.
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