The amount of air that people breathe when they are physically active increases sharply, and when active outdoors, this can result in a person inhaling more air pollution. These changes in the amount of inhaled air pollution are associated with short-term decreases in lung function, according to a recent study by a team of researchers from the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
While physical activity may mitigate the harm caused by exposure to some air pollution, high doses of air pollution result in increased airway inflammation, the researchers found.
The researchers collected data related to breathing and activity levels on 126 Atlanta-area high school students who participate in outdoor activities such as marching band, football and track and field. The researchers also measured ambient air pollution levels at the schools—one located in a wooded, suburban area and the other in an urban area close to major roadways.
The researchers used statistical analyses to assess the relationship between how much air pollution students inhaled and their lung function. This study represents a small part of a larger, ongoing study at Georgia State’s School of Public Health to measure the public health effects of air pollution and outdoor physical activity.
The results are published in the Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association in the article “Air pollution, physical activity, and markers of acute airway oxidative stress and inflammation in adolescents.” The study’s lead author is Ms. Emilia Pasalic, a 2016 MPH graduate of the Georgia State. Authors also included Dr. Matthew Hayat, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, and Dr. Roby Greenwald, assistant professor of environmental health.