Science, Tech & Environment

Running through China's pollution

I decided to head out into the city on a long run to test conditions. My neighborhood was shrouded in a heavy fog, even with the sun completely hidden away in the grey blanket up above. Five minutes later my t-shirt is already completed drenched. Another five minutes down the line, there's a strange feeling in my throat. The BBC measures the air quality every day and today it registers 292 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter, which is way above 50, the air quality target set by the World Health Organization. It's no wonder an asthmatic runner would decide to skip the Olympics. By the end I'm coughing like a pack-a-day man.

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(How are you feeling today?) I still feel pretty rough today, a couple days after doing this run. I was coughing up horrible things after running, and I still am a bit. (And you only did 10K on this run and the marathoners will be running 40K.) Yes, it poses real problems for the Chinese authorities who said this wouldn't be a problem, and shut down the polluting factories on the 19th of July. (What would the tri-athletes do?) They're going to have go when scheduled. It's hard to shift an event for the roads they'd have to close down. I know many athletes are staying away as long as they can�the British runners are staying in South Korea. The plan is to fly in a day or two before, stay outside the city, and then try and do the race and then stay, which is a shame�there should be a sense that this is the host city.