Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) calls for immediate postponement of the Delhi Half Marathon

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Air quality in Delhi hits a low; runners at risk of lung infections and other complications

New Delhi, 09 October 2018: Statistics indicate that the air quality in Delhi-NCR has taken a dip again. Since the last few days, it has been “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy” with the air quality index (AQI) hovering in the “poor” to “very poor” range. In light of this, the Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) has called for the immediate postponement of the Delhi Half Marathon to a later date, when the air quality is better.

Various parts of Delhi/NCR have shown high AQI: Dwarka Sector 8 (AQI 333), RK Puram (AQI 311), Mandir Marg (AQI 233), Sri Aurobindo Marg (AQI 258), Sonia Vihar (AQI 275), Anand Vihar (AQI 297), Okhla Phase 2 (AQI 298), and Mundaka (AQI 312). This deterioration can be attributed to a change in the direction of wind, which is now flowing from stubble burning areas in the neighboring states of Haryana and Punjab.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “The Delhi Half Marathon is scheduled to start from 5.30 am on Sunday, 21st October. This is also the time when pollution levels are likely to be extremely high with poor air quality. Air pollution is a well-recognized health hazard. Poor air quality can aggravate asthma or other existing lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). High PM2.5 levels can increase the blood pressure and can also increase the risk of acute cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke. Patients with existing heart diseases are at a risk of sudden cardiac death. Air pollution will not only affect the performance of the runner, but may have adverse health consequences, even for the healthy participants, organizers, and volunteers. The Heart Care Foundation of India appeals to the organizers to take into consideration the air quality at the time of the marathon so that no runner suffers any adverse health effects on account of exposure to hazardous levels of air pollution.”

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.PM10 has a significant correlation with reduced performance in marathon runners. Under normal breathing conditions, PM10 is filtered through the nose. But, because of mouth breathing during exercise, PM10 is not removed and is instead inhaled in large amounts.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Marathons and other outdoor sports events have been cancelled in countries like USA, Malaysia, Singapore due to poor air quality. If the AQI is above 100, it is prudent for race administrators to warn participants and volunteers, particularly those with lung conditions, about the potential risk.

Some guidelines from HCFI

  • PM 2.5 < 10 Normal WHO standards
  • PM < 25 Normal UK standards
  • PM 2.5 < 60 Normal Indian Standards
  • PM 2.5 > 100 No marathon, cricket matches, sports tournaments
  • PM 2.5 > 200 No outdoor exercises, cycling,
  • PM 2.5 > 300 Stay indoors