My Photo
Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States

My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pollution and Algae... oh my!

Pollution Dangers Cast Shadow over 2008 Olympics
By Hilmar Schmundt

Is Beijing dangerous to athletes' health? With the prospect of athletes running marathons and cycling in Beijing's smog and pollution-laden air, environmentalists and experts in sports medicine are concerned about the health risks associated with the Olympic Games in China.

The Beijing smog feeds on itself. Whenever the city periodically disappears into a brownish-yellow haze, the traffic only gets worse. Those who are fortunate enough to own a car leave their bicycles at home, choosing air-conditioning over the unfiltered cocktail of coal smoke, particulate matter and ozone in the air.

But escaping to the relative comfort of a car's interior won't be an option for those traveling to Beijing in August 2008, when more than 10,000 athletes will compete in the Olympic Games in one of the world's dirtiest cities. China has promised what it calls "Green Games," but its pollution figures suggest the more grayish hue of smog and pollution.

"The athletes could be exposed to unhealthy air pollution unless there is a substantial reduction in emissions," warns David Streets of the Argonne National Laboratory in the United States, the principal author of an article on the subject in the professional journal Atmospheric Environment

The air is often thick with pollution in Beijing, a city of 11 million. When there is no rain or wind, ozone and fine dust accumulate, often to a rate that is two or three times the maximum levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The fine dust stems mainly from coal power plants and factories, while vehicle exhaust gases are responsible for the ozone. The city's constant traffic jams have reduced the average speed of the cars on its streets from 45 kilometers per hour (28 miles per hour) in the past to only 12 today. Adding to the problem, more than 1,000 new cars are registered each day.

Even healthy visitors often complain of sore throats, allergic reactions and asthma. In China's 14 largest cities alone, air pollution is responsible for the deaths of 50,000 newborns each year, writes the Shanghai Star newspaper. "If you exercise," advises Ibrahim Salahat of the International Medical Center in Beijing, "you should do it inside."


An outbreak of blue-green algae is seen on the coastline of Qingdao, the host city for sailing events at the 2008 Olympic Games, in eastern China's Shandong province Tuesday June 24, 2008. The Qingdao government has organized 400 boats and 3000 people to help remove the algae after Olympic organizers ordered a cleanup. Experts say the algae is a result of climate change, and recent heavy rains in southern China, according to the Xinhua news agency. (AP Photo/EyePress)

I have to say this........... I do think the Olympic Committee should take more time to look into the cities that want the Olympics, ..... Our athletes health is worth it.

I find I am actually nervous about this years Summer Olympics. I guess I always am a little nervous whenever and where ever they are held, but this one in Beijing could be a health hazard to many athletes... it's just not right.


Blogger SQT said...

We've had so many fires in California this year, I've had many days of walking out into a landscape that looks just like that.

I wouldn't want to run in it. So I feel for the athletes. I wonder how it'll affect the games.

2:38 PM  
Blogger OldLady Of The Hills said...

I agree Pat....I have kind of a dis-ease about these Olympics, too, for various reasons..And the Air and the Algae just add to my discomfort. It has to be one of the most unhealthy places in The World!!!

BTW: I DID write the Obit for The Hollywood Reporter...That was it in the darker green Italics on my blog....! Thank you for the compliment, my dear.

6:29 PM  
Blogger DesLily said...

sqt: well I doubt there will be any records broken for the outdoor sports!

Naomi: yes, for some reason "other than the obvious" I've had an ill feeling about this olympics too. Sure hope we are both wrong!

You write such nice tributes to those you knew... I am glad it was you who wrote it for the Hollywood Reporter!

8:12 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I think that China and the IOC should be embarrassed.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deslily: as a journalist and editor, I must commend you for your article above. Very well done, and very throrough. This is my latest article, from the Santa Fe Sun News, of which I am the managing editor:

Title: Only Australia is Cognizant of Beijing Smog Danger, Sending Team from Hong Kong Training Camp for Event Only; Olympics President Asked to Remove Triathlon, Marathon, and Cycling Out of Deadly Smog

Stephen Fox
[see also:]

Because of concern about air quality, most of Australia’s track and field athletes will miss the Aug. 8 Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing. With events beginning after Aug. 15, one week after the opening, Athletics Australia has chosen to hold its pre-Olympic training camp in Hong Kong. Competitors will then fly to Beijing three or four days before their events.

“As many sports have said, China presents difficulties for athletes going in and being there for a period of time,” Athletics Australia national performance manager Max Binnington. “Anything more than five or six days and they inevitably end up with some sort of respiratory problem. So that was why many of the sports who don’t have to be in there early are choosing not to go in. And the outcome is that it’s almost impossible to go for the opening ceremony.” Australia’s triathletes will also miss the opening ceremonies for similar reasons. “Most of our athletes have accepted the decision straight away."

Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Bejiing organizing committee, stated that nations could be flexible for the opening ceremonies. “Every team can arrange its schedule according to its own plan,” Sun said. “As for the environmental problems, we’ve said many times that we’re confident that we can provide clean air during the Olympic Games.” A plan for Beijing’s notoriously clogged traffic include half of the city’s 3.3 million vehicles being banned each day, using an odd-even system from registration plates.

“Generally those competing of the first day or the second day don’t march, standing up for eight hours a day or so before competition isn’t a medically smart thing to do,” AOC spokesman Tancred said. Australian and Hong Kong physicians have backed this up: see "Medical Experts Say Olympians Face Health and Performance Difficulties in Beijing's Air Pollution from Hong Kong and Australian Physicians: Even Spectators Should Worry!" at:,
an article by Tan Ee Lyn.

Despite IOC President Jacques Rogge's "Beijing air pollution cheer" a few days ago from Lausanne, Switzerland, in which he basically dismisses all of these concerns, I would like you to be aware of my latest articles, which we refer to by URL in order to bring you the photo essay on Beijing smog:

[Title: Jacques Rogge and Olympic Committee: Please move Marathon, Triathlon, and Cycling out of Beijing's Deadly Air Pollution! Carbon Monoxide, Industrial Pollution, Lead, Particulate Matter, Ozone]

Please also see earlier article:

[Title: Beijing's Infernal Air Pollution Will Kill A Few Olympic Athletes; Most US Athletes Will Wear Masks While Preparing for Their Events]

If you know Olympic athletes, physicians, sports enthusiasts, and internationally minded people, please forward this to them, and to friends and colleagues. If you comprehend that we could prevent a few athletes from inevitable expiration in the Beijing smog, you can also email Mr. Rogge directly:

Stephen Fox, Contributing Editor Santa Fe Sun News

Photo Essay: Close Up of Bird’s Nest Stadium Engulfed in Beijing Smog:,0.jpg

One by my wise sardonic friend, James Fallows, Washington Editor Atlantic Monthly:

10:42 PM  
Blogger DesLily said...

Anonymous: Thank you for the input and all the links! I'm sure those interested (including myself) will follow the links. Our athlete's work so hard and many only get one chance to shine at the Olympics, what a shame this is for them. I just hope everyone comes home still healthy... winning seems to take second place now.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Cath said...

This is all going to be very interesting and I think quite a few people will be watching for all the wrong reasons. Not out of interest in the events but to see the athletes start to collapse. Hope we're all wrong!

6:16 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Deslily! It breaks my heart to think that these poor athletes, many of whom have worked nearly their whole lives for this moment are going to have to spend it in that filth.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Kim L said...

Very interesting post! There has been so much on the news lately about the human rights abuses and why China shouldn't host the Olympics based on that reason, but I haven't really read a good article on the environmental aspects. Its hard to believe how bad things are there! I'm surprised that they haven't figure out a way to clean it up, it seems like it is very important for China to only present positive things to the world. I heard they were actually fining businesses for poorly translated signs and requiring cab drivers to learn English.

11:28 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home