Valley Watch calls on Athletic Directors/Coaches to suspend practices during fine particle “alert”

August 2, 2011- by Valley Watch, Inc.

Valley Watch, a group whose purpose is to “protect the public health and environment of the lower Ohio River Valley” today is encouraging the region’s Athletic Directors and Coaches to suspend outdoor practices due to the high levels of fine particles that permeate the air today. Levels of fine particles have been in excess of the short-term health based standard since 8 Pm on August 1 and the Evansville Mayor’s Office has issued an alert for both ozone and fine particles through today.

Fine particles and heat are a dangerous combination for student athletes and at levels in excess of the standard can result in serious injury or even death for people who are required to exert themselves. Exposure to high levels of fine particles are known to cause serious illnesses like stroke, heart attack, asthma and other respiratory problems.

“We feel that all outdoor practices should be suspended during any period that either a fine particle or ozone alert has been officially declared,” said John Blair, president of Valley Watch. “There is huge evidence of negative health effects of air pollution on athletes of any age and the high levels we are experiencing today certainly warrant taking a cautious approach to exposing our kids to this pollution.”

According to the U.S. EPA:  Short-term exposures to particles (hours or days) can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. In people with heart disease, short-term exposures have been linked to heart attacks and arrhythmias. Healthy children and adults have not been reported to suffer serious effects from short-term exposures, although they may experience temporary minor irritation when particle levels are elevated.

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