Should we have a school sports day?

Exercise can be great fun and is good for your health. The health benefit of exercise is generally thought to be much greater than the adverse health effects of air pollution.

For school sports days, the main health risk comes from ground level ozone in late spring and summer, especially on sunny afternoons. This pollution is often highest away from busy roads, such as in the middle of a school playing field. The increased breathing rates of exercise mean a higher dose of pollutants delivered to the lung.

Short-term exposure to ozone can bring about a reduction in lung function, the amount of air that can be forced out of the lung in a given time, and increase in symptoms such as cough.

Our general advice for any exercise for children in later spring and summer is:

  1. Try to schedule the event for the morning, before ground level ozone pollution develops.
  2. Check pollution levels on the day, and consider rescheduling if levels are raised
  3. Monitor any sensitive individuals

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