Doctors at both the heart care foundation and Indian Medical Association (IMA) have requested the organizers to cancel the Delhi Half Marathon after the city has seen an unprecedented rise in air pollution levels for the past few weeks.
This deterioration in the air quality has been attributed to change in the direction of the wind, which is now flowing from burning areas in the neighboring states of Haryana and Punjab.
‘The Heart Care Foundation of India has also requested the government to cancel the Delhi Half Marathon after taking the air quality at the time of the marathon into consideration.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor, and 401-500 severe.
Various parts of Delhi have shown high AQI; Dwarka Sector 8 recorded an AQI of 333, AQI in RK Puram was 311. Other areas also recorded very high AQI such as Mandir Marg (AQI 233), Sri Aurobindo Marg (AQI 258), Sonia Vihar (AQI 275), Anand Vihar (AQI 297), OKhla Phase 2 (AQI 298), Mundaka (AQI 312) (Central Pollution Control Board, Oct. 9, 1 pm; https://app.cpcbccr.com/AQI_India/)
In view of the prevailing poor air quality, the Heart Care Foundation of India has called for the postponement of the Delhi Half Marathon and postpone it to a later date, when the air quality is better.
The Delhi Half Marathon was scheduled to start on Sunday, 21st October.
Air pollution is a well-recognized health hazard. The harmful effects of air pollution have been well-documented in the literature. Poor air quality can aggravate asthma or another existing lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). High PM 2.5 levels can increase the blood pressure and can also increase the risk of acute cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes. Also, patients of heart disease are at risk of sudden cardiac death.
Air pollution not only affects the performance of the runner, but the high pollution levels may also have adverse health consequences, even for the healthy participants who are training for the event as well as the organizers and the volunteers involved in the event. Air pollution can cause a cough or breathlessness on exertion in healthy individuals. Children are particularly more prone to the harmful effects of air pollution as their lungs are still growing.
In a study, PM10 has been linked to a reduced performance levels in marathon runners.
Under normal conditions, PM10 is filtered through the nose. But, in case of marathon running or during excerise, the mouth tends to do the breathing and therfore PM10 is not removed and is instead inhaled in large amounts. Hence, runners are at risk of inhaling toxic air pollutants if they participate in the marathon under such conditions.