Clean Air Needed for Women Running Marathons

Friday 5th March 2010

A recent study has revealed that the more pollution within the air, the slower the average time for women racing in marathons. The study compares the amount of air pollution present within 7 marathon races and even though the air pollution wasn’t of a significant enough level to heed warnings, the women’s performance was still affected.

The study appears in the latest edition of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and was conducted by Lindsey Marr, environmental engineer of Virginia Tech. Marr and team investigated the amounts of pollution in cities where marathons were conducted and also where an increased amount of pollution would be present. The cities included Los Angeles, Boston and New York. Whilst someone walking down the street may not be affected by the pollution within the air, the breathing of an athlete within a marathon is different. On average, someone running in a marathon will breathe in and exhale the equivalent amount of air the average inactive person would over a period of two whole days! Due to this they are evidently going to be inhaling much more of the pollution, which could impact on their performance. Men do not seem as significantly affected by this as women, and Marr explains that this could have something to do with women’s smaller trachea’s. Due to the smaller size of these there is increased chance that something could become stuck there, leading to irritation.

Marr’s study also looked into different matters that were present within this pollution and found that sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone did not affect racing times. Using the top three men and women who competed in the marathon’s times and taking the temperature and other impacting elements into account, Marr’s research extends another element that should perhaps be taken into account within races. 

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